Saturday, December 29, 2018

181229FW Gen 3:12-15 - Good, Serpent-Crushing, News

An imperfect, but hopefully helpful, sample of a family worship lesson in Genesis 3:12-15

2018.12.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 3:12-15

Questions for Littles: Whom did Adam blame for his eating (v12)? Whom did Adam blame for the woman? To whom did Yahweh God speak next (v13)? What did He ask her? What did she answer? Whom did she blame? To whom did Yahweh God speak next (v14)? What does He ask the serpent? How does He begin His address to the serpent? Onto what will the serpent go? What will the serpent eat? How long will this curse, humiliation, and defeat continue with the serpent? What will Yahweh God put between the serpent and the woman (v15)? Between whom else will Yahweh God put enmity? What kind of wound will the woman’s Seed give the serpent? What kind of wound will the serpent give the woman’s seed?
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, we have the first declaration of God’s precious gospel: He is going to humiliate the serpent (on his belly he will go!), and defeat the serpent (you shall eat dust!), and send a Son to deal the serpent his death blow.

Note that while Yahweh God puts enmity between the seed of the serpent and the Seed of the woman, it is not the serpent’s seed whose heads are crushed, but the serpent himself. He’s still there, and he’s still the serpent, when the Lord Jesus delivers him the death blow.

Once we realize that this isn’t a reptile, and that v14 is not some weird theology of a certain class of reptiles, we’re left to wonder… what does it mean that the serpent goes onto his belly all the days of his life? What does it mean that the serpent eats dust all the days of His life? What connection does this have with Jesus?

As we’ve been discovering, Scripture often readily interprets itself if we pay careful attention. Psalm 72:9 puts the desert dwellers on their faces and the enemies of Jesus licking the dust. It signifies humiliation and defeat, to go with the head-crushing in v15.

But let’s notice that the humiliation and defeat are not one-time occurrences. From the day of the fall onward, Satan’s existence will be one of continual humiliation and defeat. The Lord Himself will preserve His people from the devil and the devil’s people until at last Jesus Himself comes to earth and personally defeats Satan.

God is going to get around to telling the woman and the man the consequences of their sin, but not until they have heard Him announce that He is going to save them and defeat the devil—and even use them in the process of doing it! This is why He asked them those questions, but He asked the serpent nothing—He wanted them to fall back upon the gospel, even as they first heard the results of the fall!
When you experience sin and misery, what do you tend to fall back upon?
Suggested Songs: ARP183 “Under His Wings” or TPH265 “In Christ Alone”

Friday, December 28, 2018

181228FW John 7:1-13 - Jesus, Bringer of Sword and Division

A very imperfect, but hopefully helpful, sample of a family worship lesson in John 7:1-13

2018.12.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 7:1-13

Questions for Littles: Where did Jesus go in v1? Where did He not want to walk? Why not? What feast was at hand (v2)? Where did Jesus’s brothers tell Him to go (v3)? What did they suggest was a reason for Him to do that (v3-4)? Why would Jesus’s brothers treat Him like this (v5)? What does Jesus say about His time to go to the feast (v6, 8)? Why does Jesus say that the world hates Him (v7)? Where does Jesus remain at this point (v9)? Where does He go in v10? Why don’t people know about this? What are the Jews asking in v11? What was there much of in v12, among the people, concerning Jesus? Who spoke openly of Jesus (v13)? Why not? 
In the Gospel reading this week, Jesus’s brothers are giving Him the business. Undoubtedly, this was not the first time! But this is much worse than boyish mischief between siblings.

v1 tells us that Jesus didn’t want to walk in Judea because the Jews sought to kill Him. And the very next verse has His brothers egging Him on to go to the very place where His life is being threatened. Surely, they don’t know this, right? Wrong! Their egging Him on implies that they knew something of His resolve not to go up, and v13 makes it plain that the Jews’ murderous intentions were common knowledge.

So, vv3-4 are not mischievous, but rather murderous. Why? Why does everyone seem to hate Jesus? The Jews. His own brothers. Why?

v7 tells us plainly: because He testifies of it that its works are evil. We so crave the admiration and approval of the world, that we tend to sell ourselves this idea that if the church were just nicer and more welcoming, then the world would love us.

But what of following Jesus? He testifies that our works are evil. He still testifies that the world’s works are evil. And the world still hates Him for it. We have a choice: stand with Christ to love a world that hates us; or, stand with the world to hate the Christ who loves us. Which will we do? Are we willing to testify that the world’s works are evil?

And what if it actually comes to the point where speaking of Him openly is not just unpopular but dangerous to us? Will we be willing to speak up on behalf of our Master?
Which of “the world’s works” are we most tempted to give a pass? Will you?
Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH539 “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?”

Thursday, December 27, 2018

181227FW 1Cor 15:50-58 - Victory in Jesus

A very imperfect, but hopefully helpful, sample of a family worship session in 1Cor 15:50-58

2018.12.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Corinthians 15:50-58

Questions for Littles: What does Paul call them in v50? What cannot inherit the kingdom of God? What kind of flesh cannot inherit an incorruptible creation? What hidden truth does the apostle now reveal (v51)? What shall we not all do? But what shall we all do? How long does this change take (v52)? When? What must corruptible flesh put on instead (v53)? What must mortal flesh put on instead? What will this transformation bring to pass (v54)? What does death no longer have (v55)? What does Hades, the grave, no longer have? What is the sting of death (v56)? What especially empowers sin to hurt us in death? Who has done something about this (v57)? What does God give us? Through whom? What work is a display of this victory in our lives (v58)? What does the apostle call them now? What does he command them to be? What do we know that our labor is not? In Whom is our labor not vain?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we learn a strong connection between our hope at being raised bodily from the dead and our daily lives now in this world.

First, this hope is for every believer. It is something that we are so united in that not only will each of us surely be raised physically from the dead, but we will all be transformed at the same time. And we will all be raised and transformed in the very same moment, in the very same twinkle of an eye!

Second, this hope is a great hope. It robs death of its sting. It robs Hades of its victory.

Third, this hope is a merciful hope. The entire reason that death is so horrible, and that sin is so culpable, is that we deserve death for having broken God’s law.

Fourth, this hope is righteous hope. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, God has given us victory over sin, without violating but rather by keeping the righteous requirement of the law (that we be punished for breaking it!)

Fifth, this hope is an effective hope. Sin can longer have us. Death can no longer keep us. Now, we belong to the Lord. And, so, the point of the work that we do now is not so much that it lasts forever, but rather that it is in the Lord Himself, that it is a display of His victory. Your labor is not in vain in the Lord!

Whatever it is that we do as believers, let us do it always as those who do not belong to ourselves, those over whom sin is no longer master, those who no longer operate in fear of death—let us live every moment as those who belong to the Lord!
What part of your life feels most like it is “in vain”? How does this passage help?
Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH338 “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

181226FW Josh 11:1-15 - Shocking Grace

A very imperfect, but hopefully helpful, sample of a family worship session in Joshua 11:1-15, as we realize that what is really shocking in Joshua 11:1-15 isn't what happens to the Canaanites, but rather what happens to the Israelites

2018.12.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 11:1-15

Questions for Littles: Who “heard these things” (v1)? To which kings and nations and regions did he send word in v1-3? What did they do (v4a)? How does v4 describe the number of their soldiers? Of what else did they have very many? Where did they camp (v5)? To do what? Who spoke to Joshua in v6? What did He tell him not to do? What did He tell him to do? What did Joshua and all the people of war do in v7? Where? In what manner? Who delivered the great army of the nations into the hand of Israel (v8)? And what did Israel do? How many did they leave remaining? What does v9 say directed Joshua’s actions? What did he do? What did Joshua turn to and Israel do in vv10-12? By what does v12 say that these actions were directed? What special kind of city is mentioned in v13? Which of these did Israel burn? What did Israel do with their spoil and livestock (v14)? What did they do with the people? Who directed all this (v15)? Through whom? What is emphasized a third time in the end of v15?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we heard the account of the conquering of the northern portion of the land of promise. One could wish to focus upon how the nations all gathered as one, to destroy Israel. But, when the Lord repeats the same editorial comment several times in a passage, we need to deal fairly with that.

“But Yahweh said to Joshua…” (v6).

“Yahweh delivered them…” (v8).

“Joshua did to them as Yahweh had told him…” (v9).

“Just as Moses the servant of Yahweh had commanded” (v12).

“Just as Yahweh had commanded”  (v15a).

“He left nothing undone of all that Yahweh had commanded” (v15d).

The Lord anticipates our recoiling at the fierceness and completeness of the devastation of the conquest. And, recoil we have done! What frequent complaining there is about the conquest by wicked unbelievers!

But, if we are not going to read in filthy rebellion, then we cannot come away offended at actions that this passage emphasizes six times that this was what Yahweh commanded. Rather, we must come away stunned at what we deserve—that every single one of us deserves this, and worse!

What is truly amazing is that there is any nation that the Lord is speaking to at all. Any nation that the Lord is tolerating at all. Any nation that the Lord is helping at all. Any nation that the Lord is saving at all. Any nation that the Lord is enriching at all.

And through preserving this nation, the Lord is keeping His promise to do this for every single one, from all the nations, who believes in Jesus Christ. Amazing grace!
What should we think about ourselves, when we are surprised at God’s judgement? 
Suggested songs: ARP51A-B “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

2018.12.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 2:3-11

Questions for Littles: How should nothing be done (v3)? How should each view others? If we esteem others better than ourselves, for whose interests should we look out (v4)? Whose mindset was like that (v5)? Who is in the form of God (v6)? What was not robbery for Christ Jesus? What form did He take (v7)? What likeness? How low did Jesus humble Himself (v8)? Who exalted Him (v9)? What name did He give Him? Which knees will bow at the name of Jesus (v10)? What will every tongue confess (v11)? To whose glory?
This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation, Confession of Sin, Song of Adoration, and Announcement of the Gospel came from Philippians 2:3-11. We’ve learned about Christ’s humiliating Himself for our sakes. Becoming a man. Enduring weakness. Suffering trials.

And, of course, the greatest was submitting Himself to death… particularly death on a cross.

Our passage from Philippians points out something shocking about His doing this. When Jesus gave Himself for us, He was treating us as if we are as important as He is. He was attending not only to His own interests but also to ours.

We have two required responses.

The first way to respond to how Christ humbled Himself for us is to humble ourselves. Not just a little, but completely. Overlooking offenses, backing out of rivalries, treating everyone as better and more important than ourselves.

Of course, there are some people with whom that is easier than with others. If we’re imitating Christ, and examining ourselves, it’s the hardest people that we have to focus upon. With whom are we having difficulty? Nursing an offense? In a rivalry? Those who are sinning against us (as we have done to Him!) are the ones with whom we must most imitate Christ.

The second way to respond, the eternal way, is to worship. Every mention of His Name should be precious to us. We shouldn’t be able to tolerate any misuse of His Name. It is the Name that should always make our knees to bend, always make our tongue confess that He who gave Himself for us is Lord.

Finally, let us consider that it is not only the Son who has given all. God the Father, for our poor sakes, has given the humiliation and death of His beloved Son, with whom He is pleased!
With whom do you most need to humble yourself? How could you better honor Jesus’ name? 
Suggested songs: ARP22A “My God, My God” or TPH270 “At the Name of Jesus”

Monday, December 24, 2018

2018.12.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 3:7-11

Read 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 this week’s sermon, we were reminded of how personal our sin against God has been. The realization of nakedness showed us this. It’s interesting that Adam and his wife make the coverings together and employ them together. They don’t hide from each other, but they hide from God.

To a certain extent, we are ashamed in front of other people. But other people are sinners. There is a certain comfort in knowing that they are bad like we are. And other people have limited knowledge. It’s not like they can see into our souls to know just how bad we are.

Not so with the Lord. His knowledge is complete and penetrates to the depths of who we are. Worse, His righteousness is so great that it demanded the blood of Christ to satisfy for sin. He is perfectly holy—unbearably so for Adam, stained with just one sin. How about for you? How about for me? With our years of continual and innumerable sins?

But it’s not just that we break a code of conduct when we sin. Rather, we despise God Himself when we do so. The Lord underlines this for us in v11, when he calls the tree, “the tree of which I commanded you…” It has been called “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” It has been called “the tree in the midst of the garden.” But here, the Lord refers back to the personal conversation that He had with Adam in 2:15-17.

Have you faced this fact—that your sins are not merely against a code, but against the living God Himself? It’s personal! And this is why it’s so astonishing that He has provided personal forgiveness. He doesn’t cancel out our debt as an act of divine book keeping. No, He Himself personally came. Personally obeyed in our place. Personally bore our penalty. Hallelujah!
How have you responded to your personally betraying God and His personal sacrifice for you?
Suggested Songs: ARP32A-B “What Blessedness” or TPH341 “Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed”