Saturday, December 1, 2018

2018.12.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 3:1-8

Questions for Littles: Who was more cunning than any beast of the field (v1)? To whom did the serpent speak? Whose words did the serpent question? How did the serpent change God’s words (v1, cf. 2:16)? Who answered the serpent (v2)? How does she change God’s words (v3b, cf. 2:17a)? How does the serpent change God’s words in v4 (cf 2:17b)? What did the serpent say that God knew in v5? What three things did the woman see about the fruit in v6? What did she do about that for herself? Who was with her? What did she proceed to do with the fruit? What did he do with it? What happened to them in v7? What did they do about it?
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, we meet for the first time the enemy that is still around in Revelation 12—that old serpent, the dragon. Just as we see him doing later, in Revelation, so also we see him doing here: taking advantage of the weak and attacking where he can.

One of the great tragedies of this passage is when we get to v6 and discover that her husband is with her. Well, then, can we understand the apostle’s complaint in 1Timothy 2, when he says that the man was not deceived, but that the woman, having been deceived, fell into transgression.

It is not the woman’s behavior that we find so inexplicable, as the devil appears as an angel of light. Rather, we are horrified at the man who stands there, listening to the serpent purposefully misquote God, and to his wife make smaller errors with God’s Word… and the man does nothing about it!

In fact, once his wife is convinced that this is what the Lord really would have her do, and she eats of the forbidden fruit, he himself eats—not because he has been tricked into thinking it is good, but because he somehow believes that he can get away with it!

Though their physical eyes do not close in death, their spiritual death is expressed by open eyes. They know themselves to be sinners and immediately have suspicions about one another from which each one wishes to hide. But even their effort at a remedy is a spectacular failure, as can be attested by those who have sewn leaves or are familiar with how long they last in that condition.

What a critical place marriage has had, from the very beginning, in the battle against sin and Satan! How very much evidence there is in our closest relationships—our marriages—of our crucial need of Jesus Christ! How useless are all of our own attempts to remedy the effects of sin without Him!
How is Jesus the remedy for sin? How can Christians live together by His power?
Suggested Songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH265 “In Christ Alone”

Friday, November 30, 2018

2018.11.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 6:22-40

Friday, November 30, 2018 ▫ Read John 6:22-40
Questions for Littles: What day is it in v22? Where were the people? What did they see? What did they know about the disciples? What other boats were there now (v23)? Where did they go (v24)? Whom were they seeking? Where did they find Him (v25)? What did they ask Him? According to Jesus, what wasn’t the reason that they were seeking Him (v26)? What was the reason that they were seeking Him? For what kind of food does He tell them not to labor (v27)? For what kind of food does He tell them to labor? Who will give them that food? How do they know that He will give them that food? What kind of labor do they ask Him about in v28? What does Jesus say is the “work” of God (v29)? In order for them to believe, what do they demand that Jesus perform (v30)? What kind of sign do they suggest (v31)? How does this relate to v26? Whom does Jesus say is the giver of true bread (v32)? What is the bread of God (v33)? For what do they ask (v34)? What does Jesus call Himself in v35? What two things will never be done again by a person who comes to Jesus for life? But what does Jesus say that His hearers are not doing (v36)? Who will come to Jesus (v37)? What will Jesus not do with those who come to Him? From where has Jesus come (v38)? What has Jesus not come to do? What has Jesus come to do? Whose will does Jesus describe in v39? To whom has the Father given particular people? What will Jesus not do with any of those people? What will Jesus certainly do with all of those people? What has the Father willed to give to everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him (v40)? What will Jesus do with that person on the last day? 
In the Gospel reading this week, Jesus rebukes people for seeking something from Him. It’s not so much that He wasn’t the One that they were seeking. Rather, the problem was that He Himself wasn’t what they were seeking from Him.

They were hungry for bread, when they should have been hungry for Jesus. The sign didn’t announce that Jesus was where to get bread. The sign was announcing that Jesus IS the bread.

What is it that you seek with all your heart? Strength? Satisfaction? Joy? Belonging? A clear conscience? Every proper thing that there is to seek is to be found not merely from Jesus, but in Jesus—Jesus Himself.

Even the right work to do is to stop hoping in doing works but to believe in Him. Do not even believe in believing in Him—that is to believe in faith. But true faith doesn’t hope in itself. It believes only in Jesus!
What have you been seeking from Jesus so much that you risk seeking it more than Jesus Himself? What would it look like to seek Him more than it?
Suggested songs: ARP130 “Lord, From the Depths” or TPH508 “Jesus, Priceless Treasure”

Thursday, November 29, 2018

2018.11.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Questions for Littles: What is Paul declaring to the Corinthians in v1? What did he preach? What had they received? In what did they stand? By what are they saved (v2)? What other kind of faith is there than saving faith (end of v2)? What had Paul—first of all—delivered to them (v3)? For what had Christ died? In accordance with what? What was done with Him then (v4a)? But what did He do after He was buried? In accordance with what? By whom was He seen (v5a)? Then by whom (v5b)? Then by whom (v6)? After the gathering of over 500, by whom was He seen again (v7)? By how many of the apostles? Who was last (v8)? What does Paul say about the timing of his own becoming an apostle? What does Paul say about his place among the apostles (v9a)? Why (v9b)? How did such an one as Paul become an apostle (v10a)? What else did God’s grace enable Paul to do  (v10b)? But what is the same, no matter which apostle was preaching it, or which believer was believing it (v11)?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we continued upon the theme of the use of the understanding in worship. Now, the apostle addresses us not upon the subject of how the understanding must be used in worship, but rather upon the subject of what it is that we should be understanding, as we think in worship.

What do you think about in worship? That’s a good question, and it needs answering, because v2 reminds us that there is something that looks like faith but is really empty. What is first of all? What is most important?

Christ. Christ dead for sins. Christ buried. Christ risen again.

Apostolic signs have been a subject for much of this letter, and Paul here clearly makes the case that there are no apostles after him—so that time coming of having a completed Bible, about which chapter 13 spoke (and which Jesus had promised in John 16) was coming soon.

But the signs of a true apostle did more than confirm the written Word of the apostles. The signs were also confirming the eye-witness of the apostles. The apostles, as well as these more than 500 others, were eye-witnesses of the resurrected Christ.

O, dear Christian, there is nothing so important to us as the resurrected Christ! And to think much of ourselves is directly opposed to humbling ourselves low before Him. By the grace of God alone we have whatever calling or place we find ourselves in. By the grace of God alone may we be faithful in that calling or place.

The most important thing about our place in the church is that, in it, we carry forward the gospel of Christ dead for sins, buried, and risen again! And He--this Christ--must consume our attention during worship.
How do you dwell upon our resurrected Lord? How often? How does it affect your life?
Suggested songs: ARP72B “Nomads Will Bow” or TPH358 “Sing, Choirs of New Jerusalem”

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

2018.11.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 9

Read Joshua 9
Questions for Littles: What did all the other kings begin to do (v1-2)? What did the Gibeonites do instead? What did they want Joshua to make with them (v6)? What kind of country did they know that they needed to look like they were from for Joshua to do this? Whom do they say in v9 is the reason that they want to be in covenant with Israel? What does v14 highlight the Israelites did not ask? What did Israel learn after three days (v16)? But what didn’t Israel do and why (v18-19)? What does Israel decide to do with them (v23, 25-27)? What answer do they give for why they acted deceitfully (v24)?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we have an apparent act of great faith in Yahweh—but not from the Israelites.

Not once, but twice, the Gibeonites proclaim the greatness of Yahweh as the reason that they have done something. First, He is the reason that they were determined to get Israel to accept them in covenant. Second, He is the reason that they were willing even to be deceptive, if it would just mean that they would end up on His side.

Interestingly, the Israelites are the ones whom the passage sets up in a negative comparison with the Gibeonites. They are the ones who seem to treat it as a small thing to have the LORD on their side. They don’t even seek His counsel—even though it is apparent that they suspect that the Gibeonites are being deceptive. But what do they do? Take some of the Gibeonites’ provisions.

Not only were these much more meager than the ones that the Lord had just given them much of at Ai. The Gibeonites’ things were not even as good as what Israel themselves had dragged around the wilderness for 40 years, because the LORD whom they were taking for granted had not allowed their things to age and wear out.

It’s very interesting that the Lord Himself does not speak to rebuke Israel throughout this chapter. Why not? What does that accomplish? Well, one thing that it certainly does, as far as the telling of the story is concerned, is that it keeps the focus upon the Gibeonites and their valuing of the Lord.

And there they are, at the end of the passage: woodcutters and water carriers for the congregation. The Israelites finally found a permanent scapegoat for their most tedious chores! But do you know what else needs much wood and water? The house of God (v23), the altar of Yahweh (v27). What a blessing for him who desires to end up close to Yahweh no matter what!

When may you draw near the Lord? How urgently do you make use of those times?
Suggested songs: ARP84A “How Lovely, LORD” or TPH84B “O LORD of Hosts, How Lovely”

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

2018.11.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 1:67-79

Questions for Littles: Who was singing this song (v67) to whom (v63)? What was the Lord God of Israel doing at this time (68)? What was He raising up (v69)? How long has God been speaking through His prophets (70)? What has God been promising since the world began (v71)? What was promised to the fathers (v72)? According to His promise, why was He saving us from our enemies (v74)? What does v75 present as the two main parts of serving God? What did Zacharias tell his baby son that he would be called, in v76? Before whom would John go (v76b)? What would he be preaching that Jesus will do when He comes (v77)? What would the sunrise from God (v78) do for those who are in darkness and death (v79)? 
This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation, and Confession of sin came from Luke 1:68-79. These amazing statements are made to John the Baptizer by his daddy when he is just 8 days old and being circumcised.

From the beginning, God has been a speaking, promising, saving God. The promise of salvation from the hand of that great enemy who hates us first came in Genesis 3:15, and this passage tells us that there were no ages before that. Throughout the ages, God has been this covenant-making, covenant-keeping God!

And His purpose for us is to respond in love and gratitude. The salvation that v71 promises has a purpose, about which v74 tells us: that we might serve the Lord God without fear. That we might know that He is for us, that He has loved us, that He has saved us… and therefore we would not be afraid of anything else, but live our entire lives as service to Him!

What does that service look like? What great feats of spiritual strength, or mission field victories, or mind-boggling sacrifices make up this service?! Simply this: to live a holy and righteous life before Him, day in and day out (v75). That’s not particularly glamorous before the eyes of men, but it is glorious before the eyes of God!

First things first, though. We don’t even deserve to be able to live lives like that! That’s John’s big announcement: “I baptize you with water that says that you need cleansing from sin, but Jesus is going to come and baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is going to give you real spiritual life to believe in Him, and He is going to suffer the fire of Hell on the cross so that when you believe into Him, you will know that your sins were cleansed there! At the cross!

That is where the sunrise of life bursts through our darkness and death: God, in His tender mercy, has given Himself to be punished for our sin and to be our life. Hallelujah!
What are your daily activities? What does it look like for that to be done “in service to God”? Why don’t you deserve to be able to do that? What has Jesus done about what you deserve? 
Suggested songs: ARP191 “I Love the Lord” or TPH538 “Take My Life, and Let It Be”

Monday, November 26, 2018

2018.11.26 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?
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we learn that one of the ongoing glories of the marriage covenant is the display of God’s glorious provision of a husband and wife each to the other.

“Wow!” or “At last!” or, as NKJV puts it, “This is now!” … Adam was wowed by the woman. What wowed him so much? Well not only that she was exactly corresponding to him (v18, end of v20), but that she is even a part of him and completely united to him. Look at the song that he sings upon the occasion of meeting his wife, “bone of my bone… flesh of my flesh… she was taken from man.”

Yes, he expresses the authority of his covenant headship by naming her “woman,” but this comes in the context of being floored by him and her being one. This is what the Lord was showing Adam in the entire process. Mission accomplished.

What does that mean for you and me? Answering that question is the mission of v24: “Therefore…”
  1. Clean break. A man shall leave his father and mother. In light of the fifth commandment, that’s quite a statement. A marriage is a new beginning, but also a sure end. So wholly do husband and wife each give themselves to the other that prior first priorities are shattered.
  2. Clinging commitment. A husband and wife cling to one another. They stick, no matter what. Like the most inextricable case ever of gum in the hair. For Adam, as for our marriages today, there was no going back. This was forever.
  3. Communion. Yes, there is union here. As Jesus authoritatively paraphrased it, “the two become one flesh” (cf. Matt 19:5-6). But that phrase is more than math (1+1=1). It’s the fellowship of a shared life, in which each is 100% for the other, and the blurring of the line of where one ends and the other begins.
How are you preparing for marriage? Maintaining your marriage? Being a blessing to others’ marriages? Helping others prepare for marriage?
Suggested Songs: ARP45B “Daughter, Incline Your Ear” or TPH549 “O Gracious Lord”