Saturday, December 22, 2018

2018.12.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 3:7-11

Questions for Littles: What were opened (v7) What did the man and woman know? What did they do about it? What did the man and woman hear in v8? Who was walking in the garden? When? What did Adam and his wife do? From whose presence were they hiding? Where did they hide? Who called to Adam in v9? What did He ask Adam? What did Adam say that he felt when he heard God (v10)? Why did Adam say he was afraid? What two questions did Yahweh ask in v11? 
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, we see the great mercy of God.

The serpent had been lying when he said, “your eyes will be opened” in v5. There’s no reason to think that he expected anything other than the immediate death of the man and the woman. But rather than their eyes being closed in final death, their eyes were opened to see their own spiritual death.

What they couldn’t see was the mercy of God.

God asks, “Where are you?” Now think about that… is God really in need of information? Is He having difficulty locating Adam? Of course not! Then what is God doing? Like a mother might ask her toddler if he was being naughty, Yahweh is getting Adam to interact with Him about his sin.

When Adam does come around to interacting, he reveals that he does indeed possess something that he did not before: shame. It totally makes sense to Adam that he was afraid and hid. What he doesn’t realize is that he is admitting that he has good reason to be afraid of God.

Again, the Lord asks Adam an obvious question. Of course God knows whether Adam has eaten from the forbidden tree! But, Adam hasn’t come clean with that yet. The Lord is pressing Adam to confess his sin.

It’s pretty ridiculous of Adam to think that he can save face with God rather than coming clean. But, isn’t that what the fig leaves were all about? What can a man do to cover his sin? Feel very sorry? Extra good works? Lots of spiritual activities? Fig leaves!! All of it is nothing more than fig leaves!!!

Only one thing can ever cover our sin: the blood of Jesus Christ.
How have you dealt (or failed to deal) with your sin before the living God?
Suggested Songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH265 “In Christ Alone”

Friday, December 21, 2018

181221FW Jn 6:60-71 - Christ Alone Gives Spirit and Life by His Word


Family worship teaching time recording from today's Hopewell @Home passage

2018.12.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 6:60-71

Questions for Littles: Whose disciples said that His sayings were hard and difficult to understand (v60)? What does Jesus suggest, in v62, would be even more difficult for them to accept? Who gives life (v63)? How much does the flesh profit? Whose words give both the Spirit and life? What does Jesus say some of His hearers do not do (v64)? Who knew from the beginning who did believe and who did not believe? What else did Jesus know? What does Jesus say is the only thing that makes someone able to come to Him (v65)? What many of Jesus’s disciples do from that time (v66)? To whom does Jesus speak in v67? What does He ask them? Who answers in v68? What is the first reason that Peter gives for refusing to leave Jesus? What is the second reason that Peter gives for refusing to leave Jesus (v69)? How does Jesus answer Peter in v70? Whom was Jesus calling a devil? What would Judas end up doing? 
In the Gospel reading this week, we have a familiar passage with a shocking twist that you might not have noticed before. Jesus drives away the crowds, but the twelve remain with Him. When Jesus asks them if they want to go, Peter says that they refuse to leave Him because (a) He has the words of eternal life, and (b) they have come to believe and to know that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

The shocking twist is how Jesus responds to this statement, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” Wow—what an odd response to Peter’s beautiful confession!

Jesus is underlining the point that He had made back in v63-65. A group of people can hear the very same life-giving words, and some of them believe, while some of them do not. When Peter confesses that Jesus’s words give eternal life and confesses the truth about Jesus, the Lord Jesus Himself confronts them with the fact that even someone who agrees with those truths can be lost as the devil.

Coming to Jesus is a gift that only the Father can give. It’s pretty silly that this idea bothers some people. It would only bother us if we have more confidence in ourselves to come to Jesus than in the Father to bring us to Jesus.

As it is, however, this passage teaches us not to have false confidence just because we’ve heard the right things or agreed with the right ideas. Rather, let us be urgent and earnest in asking the Lord to bless His Word to us and to our children!
Whom do you know that hears the gospel on a regular basis and when? What do you need to be praying for them (and yourself!)? 
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place”

Thursday, December 20, 2018

I Kissed Self-Indulgence and Impurity Goodbye - thinking about this week's catechism question

Hopewell children are working on Shorter Catechism 71 this week:
Q. 71. What is required in the seventh commandment? A. The seventh commandment requireth the preservation of our own and our neighbor's chastity, in heart, speech and behavior.
In our home, this of course led to a discussion of the word, 'chastity'. Our working definition is "self-control and purity concerning romantic things."

We've noted that just as with the sixth commandment (murder: hateful thoughts, words, actions) and the fourth commandment (Sabbath keeping: delight in the day, worshipful conversations, a day consecrated for actions of worship), so also the seventh commandment (and all the others) is one in which the Lord wants our hearts, mouths, and actions. This is, after all, the understanding of God's law that the entire Bible models and that Jesus Himself very specifically teaches in Matthew 5.

Of course, giving the Lord our actions feels impossible. And Scripture itself tells us that controlling the tongue is impossible. Keeping the heart is harder still. But nothing is more necessary--especially when it comes to romance. The battles with lust that destroy young lives later are often part of a war that was lost singing radio songs, watching Disney films, or reading 19th century novels.
Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. (Prov 4:23)
We have to start from scratch in how we approach romance: a rejoicing in God's design for husband and wife, a delighting in His specific providence to us in all things and especially in whom He has chosen to be our specific spouse, and a dedication to seeing Him glorified in every detail of our lives and especially in that greatest detail that is our marriage. It was helpful to us to have just been through Genesis 2 on marriage in the morning sermons and be able to refer back.

So, of course, I was very interested in this article, commenting on a recently popular backlash against "purity culture." Whenever our consciences bother us, the easiest thing to do is to attack the legalists. Are there people who turn pursuit of purity into something by which we may maintain a right standing before God, and who think that it is something that we can accomplish by virtue of our effort and very carefully detailed list of do's and don'ts? Sure. There are legalists out there.

But the backlash isn't against them--it's against purity itself, and it's largely from people who haven't tried it. Other people's trying it makes them feel bad. And making someone else feel bad about his sin is the only thing left that our culture views as evil.

Here's the article (skip it, if you didn't live through the Josh Harris craze in the 90s. I'm sorry for him that he has been shamed into retracting what was such good advice!).

181220FW 1Corinthians 15:35-49 - What Kind of Body We'll Be Raised With


Babies crying. Five-year-olds asking to use the potty. Welcome to family worship! Imperfect people worshiping a perfect God through His perfect Word. May that Word be a blessing to you!

2018.12.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Corinthians 15:35-49

Questions for Littles: What question does the apostle suggest that someone will ask in v35? What does the apostle call this person in v36? What must happen to what is planted, in order for it to be made alive? How does the resulting plant compare to what was put in the ground (v37-41)? To what event does v42 compare a particular plant being produced by a particular seed? What kind of body is put into the ground? What kind of body comes out of it—what four things do v42-44 say about the body that is put into the ground? What four things do those verses say about the body that comes out? What did the first Adam become (v45)? What did the last Adam become? From where was the first Adam (v47)? From where is the last Adam? Who is the pattern for what happens to those who are in the first Adam (v48)? Who is the pattern for what happens to those who are in the last Adam? Whose physical image have we borne (49a)? Whose physical image shall we bear (49b)?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we begin with a question that implies an objection that could have been reasonable. “With what body?...” implies the objection, “Have you seen my body, and what happens to it after death? I don’t want that body back!!!”

Of course not. That zombie stuff is literally what horror stories are made of. But, as the apostle says, it is a foolish objection. For the decline, death, and decay of our bodies all belong to the first Adam. It is what we deserve in him. It is what happened to him. It is what will happen to everyone who is in him. But he is not the pattern for us who believe in Christ!!

No, Christ is the pattern for us. And what happened with Christ? A corruptible, dishonored, weak, natural body went into the tomb. An incorruptible, glorious, powerful body that belongs to a world that is yet to come came out of the tomb.

And it is precisely the fact that we do decline and die and decay that should convince us that our resurrection bodies will be made just like Christ’s. For, if this principle of being physically conformed to our covenant head is what causes our current difficulty in the first Adam, then we are living proof that the principle is valid. Now, let us apply the principle to the last Adam: What has happened to Christ’s body as our covenant Head will happen also to us for His sake! Hallelujah!
With what kind of body will you be raised? Why? What will you experience in it?
Suggested songs: ARP16B “I’ll Bless the Lord” or TPH358 “Sing, Choirs of New Jerusalem”

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

2018.12.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 10:29-43

Questions for Littles: Where did Joshua and Israel go in v29? What did they do there? Who delivered it and its king into the hand of Israel (v30)? Where did they go in v31? What did they do there? Who delivered Lachish into the hand of Israel (v32)? Who came and met them at Lachish (v33)? What did Joshua do to them? Where did Joshua and all Israel go in v34? What did they do there? To what does v35 compare their success? Where did they go in v36? To what does v37 compare their success? Where did Joshua and all Israel go in v38? What did they do there? To what does v39 compare their success? What land(s) had Joshua conquered at this point (v40)? How many of those that breathe did he leave alive? According to whose command did Joshua do this? What were their boundaries (v41)? Who fought for Israel (v42)? To where did they return (v43)?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, Joshua and Israel conquer the southern portion of the promised land, and utterly destroy all that breathes. This is often offensive to unbelievers, but this should not surprise us. Unbelievers are in cosmic treason against the Creator and King of the universe.

We deserve to be on the business end of Joshua’s sword—and we deserve worse still! If we think what happened to Libna, Lachish, Eglon, Hebron, and Debir is rough; then, wait until what happens to every unbeliever at the judgment!! At Christ’s great white throne, there will be no “he was a decent person” or “they’re moving on to a better place.”

From the believer’s standpoint, what we see is God having made promises and given commands. Joshua and all Israel exert great effort, measurable in sweat and blood. But, ultimately, they are doing so at Yahweh’s command (v40) and upon Yahweh’s strength (v30, 32, 42).

While our battle isn’t against unbelievers so much as against sin and unbelief, we have an otherwise similar charge and similar strength. But it seems like often we do not have a similar success!

In 2 Corinthians 2:12-13, the apostle describes having a door opened for ministry in Troas, but being compelled by a continuing anxiety of spirit to go to Macedonia and look for Titus. It’s not the kind of stuff that gets written up in the “Journal of Ministry Success”—except when you see it through the eyes of v14, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.”

This is probably a direct allusion to the conquest. The Lord is always accomplishing what He intends in His church, in our lives, in the world. Our job is to obey His commands to us and rest upon His strength alone, as we seek to be “the fragrance of Christ.” Yes, many are perishing, but what a privilege we have to serve in the age in which Christ is leading us on a conquering tour also of redeeming an innumerable multitude of sinners!
Unto whom, in your home and out of it, are you an aroma of Christ on a regular basis?
Suggested songs: ARP72B “Nomads Will Bow” or TPH421 “Christ Shall Have Dominion”

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

2018.12.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 6:1-7

Questions for Littles: In what year did Isaiah see this (v1)? Whom did he see? Where? What filled the temple? Who stood above the throne (v2)? How many wings did each have? What did each do with those wings? What did they cry to one another (v3)? By what were the door posts shaken (v4)? With what was the temple filled? What did Isaiah say about himself (v5)? What were his lips like? What had his eyes done? What did one of the seraphim do in v6? What did he have to use to take the coal from the altar? To what did he touch it (v7)? What did he say had been done when the coal touched Isaiah’s lips?
This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation, Confession of Sin, Song of Adoration, and Announcement of the Gospel came from Isaiah 6:1-7. This is a familiar passage about the great glory of God. Uzziah had been king for more than fifty years, but he was not the great king. The Lord is not only high, but higher than high: high and lifted up. So great is His glory, that the temple is not even standing-room-only. It is no-room-for-anyone-to-stand. You mayn’t step upon the King’s robe, and the train of His robe fills the temple!

The attendants of this King are “burning ones” (what “seraphim” literally means)—these are literally creatures of flame. Still, they are dwarfed and awed by the Holy-Holy-Holy One. They mayn’t stand, so they hover. They mayn’t look, so they cover their faces. Their feet are unworthy to be seen.

They cry to one another with such force that this heavenly temple of this glorious vision is shaken by their voices. This is no earthly shack, but still the praise of God makes it tremble as in an earthquake. Such is the crying out about the holiness of God that it causes a heaven-quake!!

It’s no wonder, then that Isaiah was concerned about how he had used his lips up to this point. As he hears the flame creatures, he realizes the one great purpose for which lips exist, and he realizes further that his own use of his lips has fallen so far short of this purpose that his very existence is self-destructive. “Man’s chief end is to glorify God… but all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God… so, woe is me, for I am undone!”

It is a conclusion that we must all reach now, from God’s Word, by God’s Spirit, lest we arrive at the throne ourselves on that Great Day, and hear that judgment pronounced by Him who sits upon it! Of course, the glory of the holiness that is on display is matched by an equally glorious display of mercy. A hovering seraph, who has been waiting for the King to will him into motion, flies into action. He takes a coal so hot that a flame-being must use tongs to handle it, and touches it to Isaiah’s lips.

That might sound like a recipe for lip-annihilation, but that is not the result. Rather, it is lip-atonement. The reason is truly astonishing: He who sits upon the throne was the sacrifice upon whom the fire of the wrath of the altar of God had been spent.

There is a very important passage in John 12, where v40 quotes v10 of this chapter, and then says about Jesus in v41, “These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.” Who is the Him? Yahweh of hosts (Isaiah 6:3). Here’s yet another declaration by Scripture that Jesus is Jehovah, the Christ is Yahweh Himself!

And He is Yahweh upon whom was poured all of God’s hatred and holy wrath against sin, for everyone who believes in Him. Oh, dear reader, I certainly hope that is you. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and You shall be saved!
Have you believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ as the true and Living God who gave Himself for you?  
Suggested songs: ARP51A “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH341 “Alas! and Did My Saviour Bleed”

Monday, December 17, 2018

2018.12.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 3:1-6

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?
In the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we see the folly of false spirituality. The woman did not give in to the temptation to consider God to be stingy. She flat out corrected the serpent on that. And of course she could see that the tree was good for food and pleasant to the eyes. But that wasn’t new or different.

What had changed? Why did she decide to eat the fruit? 1Timothy 2:14 helps us understand what happened. There, we learn that Adam knew that he was doing wrong (he was not deceived), but his wife did not (the woman was deceived).

Looking at our Scripture with this in mind, we see how the serpent changed his tactic. He couldn’t convince her to rebel against God directly, so He convinced her that she was really obeying God. “You will be like God,” said the serpent. And, of course, this was exactly what she was created to be: in the image of God.

However, she allowed herself to be convinced that God had left it to her to figure out how to do that. Sure, He had brought her to her husband as soon as she was created. He had previously given her husband instructions for her. He had commanded her to be fruitful and multiply and take dominion.

But this seemed pretty exciting. Would she be willing to risk her life to fulfill her calling to be like God?

It’s a very deceptive temptation. Churches are full of believers who sincerely love God, but all of those ordinary things that God has given us to do just don’t seem to be the expressions of love that they are looking for.

We might be lazy, skip work or school to “minister,” and call it “trusting God for finances.” We might try to worship in a more “inspiring” or spectacular way than the plan reading, praying, singing, and preaching of God’s Word. We might come up with doctrines or practices that the world finds more acceptable and convince ourselves that we are being “winsome for the Lord” rather than unfaithful to His Word. We might delve into meditation techniques or man-made rituals that we’re convinced make us feel closer to God.
What kinds of spiritual things do you get excited about? How do you know/learn what God calls you to do for worship, for growing in Christ, for ministry? Whom has God given you to help you identify deceptive temptations? 
Suggested Songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH172 “Speak, O Lord”