Wednesday, March 20, 2019

2019.03.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 44:1-8

Wednesday, March 20, 2019 ▫ Read Isaiah 44:1-8
Questions for Littles: What does the Lord call Jacob in Isaiah 44:1? What does He call Israel? What does He command them to do in this verse? Who made Israel (Isaiah 44:2)? Who formed them from the womb? To whom does Jacob belong as servant? Who chose them as Jeshurun (the one He makes upright)? What command appears in this verse? What will the Lord do to thirsty one with water in Isaiah 44:3ab? Who does this Water turn out to be in verse 3c? What does it turn out to be in verse 3d? Who are the ones that are parched for the Spirit and blessing of God? What will be the result of the Spirit being poured out upon the descendants of God’s people (Isaiah 44:4)? How does this new life show itself in their words in their understanding of themselves in Isaiah 44:5a? Verse 5b? Verse 5c? Verse 5d? Whom does Yahweh declare Himself to be to Israel in Isaiah 44:6a? Whom does Yahweh of armies declare Himself to be to Israel in verse 6b? What does He declare Himself in verses 6c-d? What relationship does the Word of God have to history in Isaiah 44:7-8? How does He command them to respond in verse 8 (cf. Isaiah 44:2)? 
In this week’s Old Testament reading, we have one of the great passages of the hope of Israel. When the gospel introduced John as the way-preparer of Isaiah 40, they would have very much had in mind chapter 44 as well.

There had always been a true, spiritual Israel within outward covenant Israel—a remnant of the saved within the church (cf. Romans 9:1-13). But God had promised a day when He would pour out His Spirit like water to make a dry and dead and thirsty people into a people who are characterized by vibrant spiritual life (cf. Ezekiel 36:22-29, ff). Those great passages from Ezekiel 36 and Isaiah 44 were part of what was known as “the hope of Israel,” for which the people were waiting (cf. Luke 2:25, Acts 26:6, Acts 28:20). This is also why Jesus expresses shock that Nicodemus doesn’t understand what it means to be born of water and the Spirit (cf. John 3:5-10; John 7:37-39).

And we can understand why Jesus would be astonished. Aren’t these wonderful statements? The Lord takes us into His own service. He brings us as if “from the womb” as His own children. He makes us righteous ones (Jeshurun). He chooses us. He pours out His Spirit upon us like water. He is our Helper. He is our King. He is our Redeemer. And the One who is all these things to us is the only true and living God, the First and the Last, the One who ordains the end from the beginning, the only Rock from whom gushes rivers and floods of living water.

What is the result of the Lord’s declarations about who He is unto us, and what He does for us? What is the result of His pouring out His own Spirit upon us? Spiritual life that makes us to recognize ourselves as His. “I am Yahweh’s,” we say (Isaiah 44:5a). “I am the true Jacob,” we say (verse 5b). “My very identity is to belong to the Lord” (verse 5c). “I am a true Israelite,” we name ourselves (verse 5d).

This is the Spirit’s work within us, and this is our response to baptism, which has been announced since John as the pouring out to which they looked forward in Isaiah 44 and Ezekiel 36. God directs our confidence not to what we are or what we do, but precisely because in baptism He points us to His declaring us as His very own, so also in baptism, He directs us our confidence to be entirely into who and what He is, and what it is that He has done and promised to do!
In whose identity does your baptism tell you to find salvation? In whose work does it?
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH391 “Come, O Come, Thou Quickening Spirit”

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

2019.03.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 23

Tuesday, March 19, 2019 ▫ Read Psalm 23
Questions for Littles: Who is our Shepherd (Psalm 23:1)? What shall we not do? In what does He make us to lie down (Psalm 23:2)? Beside what does the Lord lead us? What does He restore (Psalm 23:3)? In what paths does the Lord lead us? For what reason? Through what valley will we walk (Psalm 23:4)? What will we not fear? Why—who is with us? What two things of His comfort us in verse 4? What does the Lord prepare for us (Psalm 23:5)? Where? What does He do to our head? What happens to our portion of the cup of blessing? What shall goodness and steadfast love surely do (Psalm 23:6)? How many of the days of our lives will they do this? Where will we dwell/return forever? 
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin all came from Psalm 23. Many of us have memorized this Psalm from our childhood, but I wonder how many of us consider what this Psalm meant to our Lord Jesus in His childhood, and even on into His adulthood.

It’s amazing that Jesus Christ Himself needed much of the care described in this chapter. To be sure, He did not sin or stray, but He was and is fully human—like us in every way, except without sin. He would experience being hungry, thirsty, weary, tired, lonely, and attacked. But, as He grew in wisdom, a big part of that wisdom would be seeing the goodness of God everywhere and delighting in that goodness.

Would that we were like our Redeemer, beholding God’s goodness to us everywhere, in everything, all the time!

It is truly astonishing that the heart of this Psalm’s comforts was withheld from our Savior. When He looked for His Father to be with Him in the valley of the shadow of death, He cried out instead the title line from the previous Psalm, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?!” He was forsaken in the valley that we, who deserve to be forsaken there, would instead have Him with us to comfort us so that we shall not fear.

Of course, Jesus knew that it would be so, and still the gospels tells us that “the Son of man came, not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many,” and that “He set His face toward Jerusalem.”

This is because Jesus knew Himself also to be the Good Shepherd, who lays down His life for His sheep. Every one of these beautiful statements about the Shepherds loving care finds its resounding echo in the heart of our Redeemer. He is not just our pattern but our Shepherd!

He who “upholds all things by the word of His power,” is upholding all of those things with the heart of goodness and provision of the Shepherd in this Psalm. More than that, He is upholding us by His own resurrection life in us, being worked out by His own Holy Spirit who has taken us up as His dwelling.

It is no wonder that “we know that all things work together for good” for those who love God and have been called according to His purpose. But let us learn, with Psalm 23:6, to delight in His character and His presence—to delight in Him Himself—even more than in His gifts!
What valley of yours is being sweetened by God’s presence because Christ willingly went to the cross? How will you remind yourself of this? 
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH23A “The Lord’s My Shepherd”

Monday, March 18, 2019

Mark 1:1-8 "Humbled to Worship the Lord" - 2019.03.17 Morning Sermon

This sermon was a blessing. May the Spirit whom the Lord Jesus pours out on His own continue to use it to produce in us that humility He produced in John, so that He might magnify in our eyes that glory of Christ that He magnified in John's eyes.
Zack Groff | Hopewell Associate Reformed Presbyterian

2019.03.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 1:1-8

Questions for Littles: Of what is this a beginning (Mark 1:1)? Of whose gospel, in particular, is it the beginning—what three things is He called? Where had the next couple verses been written originally (Mark 1:2)? What would the Lord send before the Christ’s face? What is the messenger doing? Whose way, specifically, was the messenger to prepare (Mark 1:3)? What two things did John come doing (Mark 1:4)? What did his baptism promise? How effective was this preaching (Mark 1:5)? How impressive was John (Mark 1:6)? Whom did he say would be far more impressive (Mark 1:7)? What baptism would this Person give to truly accomplish what John’s baptism could only point forward to (Mark 1:8)?
In the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we learn immediately what kind of writing Mark has written. It is a gospel. It is good news. And it is good news about Jesus, whose name means, “the Lord saves.” And it is good news about the Christ, which is a title that means, “anointed One.” And it is good news about the Son of God, which means that here is One who is not created by God, but rather begotten of God—One who is very God of very God… One who is God Himself.

This is good news about how the Lord God became a man that He might save us as the anointed One. Such an One about whom we need to hear such news deserves someone to announce that He is here. And that’s what the Baptizer was doing. He was preparing the way for the Savior by announcing what it was from which we need saving: our sins.

The Baptizer announced repentance, but that couldn’t take away sin. Have you ever even tried just to stop sin? We can’t. Not in this life. And not at all on our own. In repentance, we recognize sin for what it is, and determine our whole selves against it. Repentance includes feeling sorry against our sin, but it is so much more than sorry-feeling. It’s a declaration of war!

But still, there is that sin that stands against us. What’s the good news? That there is remission of sin—the canceling of sin from our account with God. And it’s good news of Jesus Christ because He doesn’t just wash us with water as a sign that this canceling of sin can happen. No, Jesus Christ washes us with His own Holy Spirit. He actually cleanses us. The Holy Spirit joins us, through faith, to Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ’s death satisfies for the guilt of our sin. Jesus Christ’s obedience earns every possible blessing for us. Jesus Christ’s status becomes ours, and we are adopted as children. Jesus Christ’s life becomes ours, and the life that we then live, we live by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us. This is the blessed work of the Holy Spirit whom He gives us!
Who is the Holy Spirit? What does He offer to do for you? Have you asked Him to do it?
Suggested Songs: ARP51A-B “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH392 “Holy Ghost, Dispel Our Sadness”

Saturday, March 16, 2019

2019.03.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 1:1-8

Questions for Littles: Of what is this a beginning (Mark 1:1)? Of whose gospel, in particular, is it the beginning—what three things is He called? Where had the next couple verses been written originally (Mark 1:2)? What would the Lord send before the Christ’s face? What is the messenger doing? Whose way, specifically, was the messenger to prepare (Mark 1:3)? What two things did John come doing (Mark 1:4)? What did his baptism promise? How effective was this preaching (Mark 1:5)? How impressive was John (Mark 1:6)? Whom did he say would be far more impressive (Mark 1:7)? What baptism would this Person give to truly accomplish what John’s baptism could only point forward to (Mark 1:8)
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, we hear the beginning of Mark’s gospel. Immediately, in Mark 1:1, he tells us that he is writing a gospel. It’s like placing a headline, or a cover page on the book that announces GOOD NEWS. So, one thing that we may want to do as we read through this book is to frequently ask ourselves, “how is this good news?”

That question is actually answered in at least three ways before the verse is over.
  1. His name is Jesus. Why was He called Jesus? (look at Matthew1:21). 
  2. His title is Christ. This is a Greek translation of the word, “Messiah,” or “Anointed One.” Jesus is the promised forever-king of 2 Samuel 7, the promised forever-priest of Psalm 110, the promised final great prophet of Deuteronomy 18 (cf. Acts 3:22-23).  
  3. His identity is that He is the Son of God. God Himself has come as our Savior, King, Priest, and Prophet.
Mark goes on to show the faithfulness of God, His perfect reliability. God promised that He Himself would come, and that He would first send a messenger (Mark 1:2-3). And John came, exactly as God promised (Mark 1:4-7).

But there’s a huge difference here between the messenger and the Messiah. What did John baptize with? The messenger baptized with water, a symbol of the people’s need for repenting from sin and being forgiven of sin.

And in Mark 1:8, what does John say that Jesus will baptize with? Again, we can see that Jesus must be not just a man but God Himself, for He pours God Himself the Holy Spirit out upon those whom He baptizes. Jesus’ baptism gives the repentance and forgiveness that John’s baptism could only tell us that we needed.
Have you come to Jesus for washing? How does He give forgiveness? Repentance?
Suggested Songs: ARP32 “What Blessedness” or TPH391 “Come, O Come, Thou Quickening Spirit”

Friday, March 15, 2019

2019.03.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 11:1-16

Questions for Littles: Who was sick (John 11:1)? What was the town called? What does John 11:2 note about Mary? To whom do the sisters send (John 11:3)? What did the sisters call their brother? What does Jesus say the sickness is not unto (John 11:4)? What does Jesus say that the sickness is for? What does John 11:5 tell us about Jesus? What did He do because He loved them (John 11:6)? Then what does He say to the disciples (John 11:7)? What objection do the disciples have to going to Judea (John 11:8)? What does Jesus say can’t happen to Him while He walks in the day (John 11:9)? What does He then say about Lazarus (John 11:11)? What do the disciples think this means (John 11:12)? But what does Jesus actually mean (John 11:13-14)? What does Jesus say that He feels about this death (John 11:15)? Why? What does Thomas propose that they go do with Jesus?
In the Gospel reading this week, we saw some things that were precious and some that were surprising. It is precious to hear Bethany called “the town of” Christ’s friends. It is precious to have Mary identified by her displays of love to Christ. It is precious to see the sisters call Lazarus “he whom You love.” It is precious to read, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” And, indeed it is precious (and perhaps slightly surprising) to see Thomas saying, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”

The love of the Savior for His own, and the love of them for Him, is deeply precious!

But there is also several surprises in this passage. We might be surprised to read that this sickness is not unto death—or at least, we are very surprised when after Jesus says that, Lazarus dies. He sets us up to expect that this is not in fact the end.

It is also surprising that it was precisely because of His love for them that Jesus doesn’t immediately go to them. How can that be love? We often ask the same question in our own lives. But Jesus intended to show them something greater than they even thought to ask.

Then, it is surprising that Jesus decides to go to Judea. Apparently, the disciples hadn’t minded not going up, because when Jesus decides to go, they decide that His plan is insane. But Jesus cannot die, because His time hasn’t come yet. He even hints at the great theme of this chapter: He alone has light and life in Himself!
How do you know Jesus loves you? How do you know you love Jesus? What circumstances don’t seem to be showing His love? Do you trust what He’s doing?
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH231 “Whate’er My God Ordains”

Thursday, March 14, 2019

2019.03.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:8

Questions for Littles: What do we not lose (2 Corinthians 4:16)? What is perishing? What is being renewed? How often? What does the apostle call our affliction in 2 Corinthians 4:17? How long does he say it lasts? What is it working for us? How does this glory compare in length? How does this glory compare in weight? What do we need to do in the meantime (2 Corinthians 4:18)? Why? What does 2 Corinthians 5:1 call our bodies? But where is the unseen house? What do we do in the seen house (2 Corinthians 5:2)? How do we feel about our unseen house? How do we feel without that house (2 Corinthians 5:3)? Is our desire to be unclothed of our physical body (2 Corinthians 5:4a)? What should our desire be? Who has prepared us for this (2 Corinthians 5:5a)? How has He guaranteed/assured us that these things are ours (2 Corinthians 5:5b)? What effect does this have upon our attitudes (2 Corinthians 5:6a2 Corinthians 5:8a)? What are we currently at home in and away from (2 Corinthians 5:6b)? How will we feel about being away from the body instead and present with the Lord instead (2 Corinthians 5:8b)? How, therefore, must we walk (2 Corinthians 5:7)? 
In this week’s Epistle reading, we learn the key to viewing any and all earthly troubles as just light and momentary. Seeing what is invisible.

The problem is that our troubles are very visible. They do not look light but weighty. They do not look momentary but long. But these troubles are not just going to be replaced by an eternal weight of glory. They are actually working for us this eternal weight of glory. As our outward man perishes, we remember that bodily suffering is for a short time. And as we learn and grow in these trials, we “see” that our inward man is being made fit for glory.

Of course, we don’t “see” that—our souls are invisible. And that helps us develop our x-ray vision by which we see the unseen: faith. Our souls have far more to look forward to than mortal, perishable bodies. First and foremost, we look forward to the immediate presence of our Redeemer and His glory. Second, and also glorious, our souls look forward to a resurrection in which our new bodies will be immortal and suit our eternal inheritance of the glory of Christ.

Faith doesn’t just see these things. It is confident of these things. And it grows in this confidence because of the Holy Spirit. He teaches our hearts to call God Father, and we grow confident of our adoption. He teaches our hearts to love God Himself, and we grow confident that God Himself is our inheritance. He teaches us to walk by faith, not by sight, and to look forward with joy to an eternal weight of glory!
What troubles are you going through? What are they working for you? How do you know?
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH466 “My Faith Looks up to Thee”

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

2019.03.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 20

Read Joshua 20
Questions for Littles: Who spoke in Joshua 20:1? To whom? And to whom did He tell him to speak (Joshua 20:2)? What did He tell him to tell them to appoint? Through whom had He said this before? What kind of slayer/killer could flee there (Joshua 20:3)? From whom would this be a refuge for him? Where would he stand when he flees to one of those cities (Joshua 20:4)? To whom would he declare his case? What would the elders of the city do if they agree with his case? When the avenger of blood arrives, what will the elders of the city do (Joshua 20:5)? How does verse 5 define manslaughter? What additional trial was he to have according to Joshua 20:6 (cf. end of Joshua 20:9)? And upon whose death could he return to his own city and his own house? Which cities were appointed in which tribes, in Joshua 20:7-8? Who had access to these cities of refuge (Joshua 20:9)?
In this week’s Old Testament reading, we read about the cities of refuge for someone who is not guilty of murder, but has accidentally killed someone. The deceased person’s relative has a duty to go and get vengeance, and so the manslayer needs a place to go where he can hide from vengeance. Finally, there is the death of the High Priest, which releases even the need for finding refuge. All three of these are a beautiful picture of the Lord Jesus Christ unto us.

First, Christ is our place of refuge. What’s wonderful about this is the many ways in which He is better than one of the cities in Joshua 20. He is a refuge for any sin and not just involuntary manslaughter. He is a refuge, even if we are guilty—which is important, because we are so frequently guilty! He is a refuge who is available everywhere, and who doesn’t take any time at all to get to—just imagine how important your cross-country running times would be if you ended up in one of these situations! Finally, He is a perfect judge and perfect defender. How very much, for the manslayer would depend upon the elders and congregation of the city to which he fled.

Second, Christ is our High Priest. He has already died, once for all. This is one of many reasons that the Mosaic civil law cannot still be in effect. It is directly tied to the ceremonial law, which has been replaced by Christ. And Christ, having already died, does accomplish not the same thing, but something better. When the High Priest died, the time for vengeance on the manslayer expired. So in Christ, we do not merely have a refuge in Whom we may hide from wrath; but we have the expiration of vengeance altogether. Indeed, the Lord Jesus does something that no other High Priest ever did. He rose again. So in Him, we have not only the expiration of wrath, but the desert of blessedness. No longer are we separated from home and inheritance; rather, we are now joint-heirs with Him in Whom everywhere is our home and rightful inheritance!

Third, Christ is our own avenger of blood. He is our close relative. He considers it a duty to get complete vengeance for whatever has been done to us. But again, He is so much better. There is nowhere our persecutors or enemies can flee from Him. Even if it should cost Jesus to suffer the full wrath of God Himself, He will make sure that all that is done against us is fully repaid.
Have you fled to Christ? Have you become a joint-inheritor with Him? In what situations do you need to hear that He will avenge all wrongs against you?
Suggested songs: ARP32 “What Blessedness” or TPH274 “Jesus, My Great High Priest”

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

2019.03.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 92:1-9

Questions for Littles: For what day is this Psalm a song (title)? What two things does Psalm 92:1 say are good to do on the Sabbath? When does Psalm 92:2 say that it is good to do this? What Levitical instruments are mentioned in Psalm 92:3? What does the psalmist feel, as he praises God, in Psalm 92:4? Why? What two things does the psalmist praise in Psalm 92:5? Who doesn’t see these things (Psalm 92:6)? What will happen to such wicked enemies of God (Psalm 92:7Psalm 92:9)? Why—where is God, and for how long (Psalm 92:8)? 
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin all came from Psalm 92:1-9. This is a particularly appropriate passage for Lord’s Day worship, because the Holy Spirit Himself titled it “A Song for the Sabbath Day.”

And what is the Sabbath for? Worship. Worship in the morning. Worship in the evening. Worship in the officially consecrated service, through God’s appointed priest—this is the implication of the instruments in Psalm 92:3… how beautiful it is when God’s design for worship is followed! Of course, God’s appointed priest now isn’t the Levitical string section, but Jesus who plays the melody of grace upon our hearts (cf. Ephesians 5:19 with Colossians 3:16).

The Sabbath is a day for setting aside our works for considering, by means of the Lord’s works, the Lord Himself.

If we know Him—and we do so primarily and especially by knowing Christ, whose redemption is God’s greatest work by far—if we know Him, then we will love an entire day to spend praising and thanking Him for His works and the thoughts toward us that His works reveal!

The flipside of this is what it says of us if we don’t really want to spend the day this way. Then, we are those senseless fools who say in our hearts that there is no God. And what a frightening position to be in! God isn’t going to get off the throne just because we don’t enjoy Him enough (cf. Psalm 92:8).

Thankfully, His greatest work has been for Himself to be our righteousness in Jesus, and for Himself to suffer as a perishing enemy in our place, in Jesus!
What do you love to do on the Lord’s Day? For what does this show great love?
Suggested songs: ARP92 “It’s Good to Thank the Lord” or TPH157 “When Morning Gilds the Skies”

Monday, March 11, 2019

2019.03.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 6:13-22

Questions for Littles: Who spoke to Noah in Genesis 6:13? What did He tell Noah had come before Him? Why—with what was the earth filled? What will the Lord do to them? What does He tell Noah to do in Genesis 6:14? What to make in it? With what to cover it? What dimensions does God command (Genesis 6:15)? What features does He command in Genesis 6:16? What is God’s part to do with the world (Genesis 6:17)? What is God’s part to do with Noah (Genesis 6:18a)? With whom else is God establishing His covenant (Genesis 6:18-20)? What else does God command Noah to take (Genesis 6:21)? What does Noah do? 
In the Scripture for this week’s sermon, God drops a huge hint about how the Seed of the woman is going to crush the serpent’s head: by starting a whole new humanity.

This, really, is what is going on with Noah, isn’t it? God is wiping out all of humanity, and even producing a new earth. On the ark, He will put an entire new Eden, with every kind of animal, and all food for them. Noah is a new Adam—we are all descended from him. God is treating him, already, as covenant head—saving all his family, all his “humanity” with him.

But he isn’t the new Adam that we need. Oh, he’ll do as far as getting us to Jesus physically goes. But spiritually? That’s the bigger problem, isn’t it? And, spiritually, Noah isn’t even the new Adam that Noah needs. Let alone the new Adam that we need. Only Jesus is that!

There are things that only God can do. Only God can judge the earth (Genesis 6:17). Only God can make stand the covenant to save humanity (Genesis 6:18). And, in the end, only God can do even man’s part!

But God has also appointed means. He gave the command for the ark. He gave very specific commands about its materials, dimensions, and features. He commanded food.

God has also appointed means for bringing us to faith in Jesus. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. And means for growing us in Jesus. Sanctify them by Your truth; Your Word is truth.
In whom are you hoping to become part of the new humanity? Are you using His means?
Suggested Songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH260 “All Mankind Fell…”

Saturday, March 9, 2019

2019.03.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 6:13-22

Questions for Littles: Who is speaking in Genesis 6:13? To whom? What does God say has come before Him? Why? What does God tell Noah to do in Genesis 6:14? What does He say to put in it? With what does He say to cover it? What else does the Lord say about the design for the ark in Genesis 6:15-16? What did the Lord say would be His particular part in Genesis 6:17—what would He do? Why? What would the Lord establish with Noah (Genesis 6:18)? And with whom else? What else does the Lord tell Noah to bring in Genesis 6:19-21? What does Noah do (Genesis 6:22)? How much of what God commanded him did he do?
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, we find several mercies that God shows unto Noah.

One mercy that God demonstrates to Noah is that He talks to him. God is merciful to tell His people what He is like, what they are like, what He plans to do, what He wants them to do, and more.

A second mercy that God demonstrates to Noah is that He spares his life. I think that sometimes, the greatness of God’s mercy to spare us seems to fade from our view; but as Noah worked on the ark, he would have had that continual reminder of God sparing him.

A third mercy that God demonstrates to Noah is that He establishes His covenant with him. He brings Noah, and all those who are under Noah and in Noah, into a committed relationship with Himself.

A fourth mercy that God demonstrates to Noah is employing Noah to spare and bless others. God gives Noah a part in His plan and even makes Noah an image of Himself and of Christ. This is a tremendous privilege.

A final mercy is that the Lord testified of Noah’s righteous deeds. Of course, these were only done by God’s grace. And that is true of all of our righteous deeds as well. What a great mercy—to have the living God declare his righteous deeds!
Where has God spoken to you? How has God spared you? In whom has God brought you into covenant with Himself? With whom else has He brought you into a display on earth of that covenant? How has God given you the privilege of being used in His work in others? When will God declare your righteous deeds?
Suggested Songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH1A “That Man Is Blest”

Friday, March 8, 2019

2019.03.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 10:22-42

Questions for Littles: What was happening in Jerusalem (John 10:22)? What season was it? Where was Jesus in John 10:23? What did the Jews do to Him in John 10:24a? What did they demand (verse 24b)? How does Jesus respond in John 10:25? What does Jesus say bear witness of Him in addition to His words? What is His explanation for their unbelief in John 10:26? Who do hear His voice (John 10:27)? What else do they do? What does Jesus give them (John 10:28)? Who can snatch them out of His hand? Who has given Jesus’s sheep to Him (John 10:29)? Who can snatch them out of His Father’s hand? What does Jesus say about Himself in John 10:30? How do the Jews respond in John 10:31? What does Jesus ask in John 10:32? What do the Jews say they are stoning Him for (John 10:33)? What does Jesus point out about language in John 10:34-35? What does Jesus say the Father did to Him in John 10:36? What does He present as proof that He is the Son of God (John 10:37)? How does Jesus describe His relationship with His Father at the end of John 10:38? What did they seek in John 10:39? What happened? Where did Jesus go in John 10:40? Who came to Him there (John 10:41)? What did they say? What did they do (John 10:42)? 
In the Gospel reading this week, we find people who cannot save themselves and others who cannot be stopped from being saved.

First, those who cannot save themselves. The Jews’ unbelief is so hard and sad. Jesus has told them plainly who He is—and then when He tells them again, they want to kill Him! Notice, by the way, that Jesus does not deny their charges of what He is claiming about Himself. He simply attests that His claims are true! He has even done works—works that John the Baptizer hadn’t displayed—that prove that He and His Father are One. But they still can’t believe.

But then there are those whose salvation cannot be stopped. We know why. When they hear Jesus’s voice, they know Him, and He knows them. He gives them eternal life. No one can snatch them out of His hand. He gives them eternal life, because His Father was the One who gave them to Him. No one can snatch them out of the Father’s hand. Their salvation goes all the way back into God Himself—how can anything in all creation and time ever undo that?!

Therefore, even though there was just recently a very public attempt on His life, they are glad to come to Him and believe in Him.
If salvation starts in God Himself, what does that mean for your own salvation? 
Suggested songs: ARP23A “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome…”

Thursday, March 7, 2019

2019.03.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 4:8-15

Questions for Littles: What four things have happened to the apostle and his companions in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9? What four accompanying results have not ended up happening? What are they carrying about (2 Corinthians 4:10)? How often? For what reason—what does this display in them? What are they currently doing (2 Corinthians 4:11a)? But what is always happening to them? What does this display in their mortal flesh (verse 11b, cf. 2 Corinthians 1:8-10)? In whom else, then, does the life of Jesus operate (2 Corinthians 4:12)? Why do the apostle and his companions speak (2 Corinthians 4:13)? Who has been raised (2 Corinthians 4:14a)? Who will be raised (verse 14b)? With whom (verse 14c)? What spreads through each one for whom this life and this resurrection and this future are true 
(2 Corinthians 4:15)? What does this cause to abound? Unto what end is all of this thanksgiving?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we learn why it is so important that the “victorious Christian life” be lived in the midst of much trouble and suffering: precisely because it is gaining the victory.

When the victory is gained in this manner, it is obvious that the excellence of the power is of God and not of us (2 Corinthians 4:7). When the victory is gained by those who are being displayed as under a death sentence (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:9-13; 2 Corinthians 1:8-10), it is obvious that the life that is in them is not actually from them but from someone else (2 Corinthians 4:10-11). When the victory is gained by those who are being displayed as under a death sentence, it is obvious that the life that comes through them to others is not actually from them but from someone else (2 Corinthians 4:12). And when the victory is gained not by escaping death but by passing through it and conquering it, it is obvious that the unendable life that results comes from the same place as Jesus’s own resurrection.

Well, when we receive something that is not at all from ourselves but entirely from Someone else, this produces not just thanksgiving but abounding thanksgiving (2 Corinthians 4:15). And when thanksgiving to God abounds in this fashion, this further glorifies God! This is the joy of the believer—to bring glory to the God who has given him life out of death in Jesus Christ!!
What troubles and inabilities currently complicate your life? If you are a Christian, then Whose life is the Lord especially displaying in you in these particular situations? If you are not, then why should you expect ultimately to fail? What is the right response of seeing that Jesus’s life is our only life and power?
Suggested songs: ARP66A “O All the Earth” or TPH265 “In Christ Alone”

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

2019.03.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 18-19

Questions for Littles: Who are gathered at Shiloh in Joshua 18:1? What do they set up there? What has been done to the land? What does Joshua 18:2 say still needs to happen? With what question does Joshua challenge them in Joshua 18:3? What command does he give them in Joshua 18:4? Which tribes are already the southern and northern “bookends” of Israel (Joshua 18:5)? Once the land is divided into seven parts, how will it be decided which tribe gets which part (Joshua 18:6)? Before Whom is the lot cast? Who is the first to be mentioned that they will not get one of these seven regions in Joshua 18:7? Why not—what do they get instead? Who else do not get one of these seven regions? Why not? Who gave their inheritance to them? What command is given a third time in Joshua 18:8? To whom, specifically, is it given this time? What process does Joshua 18:9 summarize? What happened after this process in Joshua 18:10? Whose lot came up first (Joshua 18:11)? Second (Joshua 19:1)? Third (Joshua 19:10)? Fourth (Joshua 19:17)? Fifth (Joshua 19:24)? Sixth (Joshua 19:32)? Seventh (Joshua 19:40)? Who else receives an inheritance in Joshua 19:49? How was this inheritance selected (Joshua 19:50)? Where and in front of whom were these inheritances divided (Joshua 19:51)?
In this week’s Old Testament reading, although not all of the Canaanites have been driven out, the war is over. The land is subdued. The problem is that there are seven tribes that have not yet received their inheritance.

Surprisingly, Joshua tells them that it is their fault. His triple-repeated command to survey the land and identify the borders of seven regions carries with it the implication that this is something that they should have done by now. The first repetition is the strongest, “How long will you neglect…?”

In other words, since God has promised it to them, faith would have acted upon that promise, and their inaction is actually indicative of some measure of unbelief.

Of course, although faith acts, its hope is not in its action but in the Lord upon the basis of whose Word the action is taken, and before Whom the action is taken, and unto Whom the actors look for the blessing of the action.

That’s the point of the casting of lots—not that it is random… in fact, exactly the opposite! All of this is done before the Lord. In this particular case, it is done at the tabernacle. That place of intersection between God and man. That place that John 1 tells us was ultimately fulfilled when the Word became flesh and tabernacle among us!
What has Jesus earned for you to receive? What has Jesus earned to be done to you first in order to receive it? What are Jesus’s means by which He does this for you? From where do you receive your instruction for doing these things? Before Whom do you do these things? Unto whom do you look for their blessing? What does all of that look like?
Suggested songs: ARP119B “How Can a Young Man Cleanse His Way?” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

2019.03.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 20:8-11

Questions for Littles: What is the first word/command in Exodus 20:8? Which particular day is it that we are to remember? For what purpose are we to remember it? In order to keep the Sabbath holy, on which days should we have it in mind (Exodus 20:9)? To Whom does the Sabbath belong (Exodus 20:10)? How much work should we do on it?  Who else should not work on it? What else should not work on it? What explanation does Exodus 20:11 give for the pattern of “six and one”? What did the Lord create? How much of it? How long did He take to do this? What did He do on the seventh day? What two things did the Lord do to the Sabbath day?  
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin all came from Exodus 20:8-11.

Remember. Ironically, one of the things that we tend to forget about the fourth commandment is that it begins with a command to “remember.” Why would we need such a command? Because of our tendency/likelihood to forget. And because of the necessity of remembering the day if we are actually going to keep holy the day.

Sabbath. It literally means stopping. Yes, we gloss this meaning with the word “rest,” but at its fundamental core, it means to stop. Of course, we cannot quit everything. So, it must be that there are specific things that we are to stop in order to do other things.

Day. We know what a day is by Exodus 20. In fact, we know what a day is by the end of Genesis 1:5. 24 hours. It is not the Sabbath hour. Or the Sabbath morning. Or the Sabbath exercises. It is an entire day that is to be remembered. And an entire day that is to be kept.

Keep. Guard. Observe. Defend. Follow through with. The word has all of these meanings in this context. Remembering the stopping day is not so much about what may not be done on that day, but about what must be done on that day. It’s not about what the day is against but what the day is for.

Holy. This is what the day is for. Being separated from all other uses and consecrated unto God. This is what we remember on the other six days. This is why we must not permit anyone else to work for us or near us upon that day.

Blessed (Exodus 20:11). It almost goes without saying. Can there be anything more blessed than to set aside the creation to spend a day attending upon the Creator Himself? This is, literally, the ultimate blessing!
When are you to remember the Sabbath? How are you to do this? Why?
Suggested songs: ARP118D “Now Open Wide the Gates” or TPH153 “O Day of Rest and Gladness”

Monday, March 4, 2019

2019.03.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 6:6-12

Questions for Littles: Who is “sorry” in Genesis 6:6? What is He sorry about? How else does verse 6 say He was sorry? What does the Lord say in Genesis 6:7? What did Noah find in Genesis 6:8? Where did he find this grace? What does Genesis 6:9 say was begotten of Noah—what kind of man was he? What was he “in his generations”? What did he do? What does Genesis 6:10 say was begotten of Noah? Before whom was the earth corrupt (Genesis 6:11)? With what was it filled? Who looked upon the earth (Genesis 6:12)? What did He see? Who had corrupted their way on the earth? 
In the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we find something strange. Yahweh is sorry and grieved in His heart. Now, we know that the Lord doesn’t have a body and doesn’t change His mind. Even stranger, in Genesis 6:7, the Lord says that He will destroy man and that He is “sorry” that He made man. To whom is He speaking? Just like when we saw the Lord “rest” on the seventh day, or “walk” in the cool of the evening, we know that this is a manner of speaking for our benefit. He is teaching us that He responds in a perfectly holy and righteous way to our sin.

Now, when we think about it, these may be a strange-sounding way of telling us about it, but what the passage is telling us so far is not that strange. The holy and righteous God should destroy all sinners! That makes Genesis 6:8-9 the truly strange verses in this passage. How could Noah find grace in Yahweh’s eyes? And how can it be that Noah was a just man? That he was perfect in his generations? That he walked with God?

Ultimately, the answer has already been revealed in Genesis. God has promised that there will be offspring of the woman. In fact, He has promised that there will be one specific Seed who crushes the serpent’s head.

So, on the one hand, Noah has to survive, because from him, Jesus must descend.

And, on the other hand, Noah can in fact survive, precisely because his descendant Jesus would satisfy the holiness and righteousness of God on his behalf.

Grace finds Noah. Grace credits Noah with righteousness for the sake of Christ. Grace transforms Noah—not because Noah deserves it, or because Noah has any ability in himself, but because Jesus deserves it, and Jesus has the power in Him.
What do you deserve? Who deserves different? What has He done for you? 
Suggested Songs: ARP32 “What Blessedness” or TPH130A “Lord, from the Depths”

Saturday, March 2, 2019

"Flash Mobs from Heaven" -- Pastoral Letter from the 2019.03.03 Hopewell Herald

Dear Congregation,

Have you ever witnessed online—or even in person—a “flash mob”? The term refers to coordinated performances that take place out where unsuspecting people find themselves suddenly immersed in something that is from another world than the one that they were expecting.

They were in the world of the shopping mall, or the street corner, or the train station; then, suddenly, they find themselves in the world of the symphony or the chorale. Oftentimes, people who are very unfamiliar with these worlds find themselves enjoying very much this invading sample from the other world.

On a number of occasions in the first year of her life, it has been a joy to observe this “flash mob” effect on our Itty Bit, as she is affectionately called. She will be sitting with us at table for a meal. Things will get (mostly) cleaned up. Daddy will say, “God made.” Everyone will say, “everything!” Daddy will say, “And God helps.” Everyone will say, “us!” Daddy will say, “So let’s worship.” Everyone will say, “God!” Then there will be prayer. Then everyone will open a book. Then the most amazing thing happens. The entire family breaks forth into singing.

It is difficult to find words for the look on Itty Bit’s face at this point. She seems clearly to see that there has been an invasion from some wonderful world at this point. And not just the world of singing in four part harmony—although there is that. But rather the world of praise. The world that exists in the more cognizantly immediate presence of God.

No, she doesn’t always (or often, yet!) behave well all the way through Bible reading, though it does seem that she understands that this is like no other reading that we do as a family (and we read other things). No, she doesn’t always make it all the way through Bible explanation/application, though she does seem to be observing that this is different than normal conversation. And she doesn’t quite seem to “get” prayer—though she seems to get that it is different than anything else that we do.

On the whole, the exercises of worship aren’t things that she seems to be processing in the way that one day (soon!) she will be. But one thing that she is processing is that there is another world, and our family belongs to it and participates in it—even though we also have a zip code in Middle Tennessee. And—God helping us—she is starting to learn that there is a joy in this belonging and participation that is, quite literally, other-worldly.

When, some time ago, we were in Hebrews 12:18-29 as a congregation, we learned from Scripture that corporate worship on the Lord’s Day is a visit to this other world. It’s kind of the inverse of the flash mob. We come to the great cloud of witnesses—and especially to Him Himself whom they witness—and discover there wonders and joys that leave an impression upon us that is far greater than the sum of the particular benefits of the particular exercises of worship.

The difficulty for us is that this visit must occur by faith, and this impression is perceived by faith. May the Lord, who measures out faith unto believers, measure out unto us an ever-increasing portion for these weekly visits to glory!

Looking forward to visiting there with you tomorrow,


2019.03.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 6:6-12

Questions for Littles: Who was sorry in Genesis 6:6? What was He sorry about? How does the verse say that God felt? In what does it say that He felt that? Who says something in Genesis 6:7? To whom does He say it? But whom is He telling about it, as you read it? Whom did He say that He would destroy? What else does He say that He will destroy along with man? Why? Who was different (Genesis 6:8)? What did he find that made him different? Where did he find this grace? Of whom is Genesis 6:9 telling us the outcome? What kind of man was Noah? Among whom was he blameless? How does verse 9 summarize the activity of his life? How many sons did Noah father (Genesis 6:10)? Who were they? What does Genesis 6:11 say was corrupt? Before whom was it corrupt? With what was it filled? Who looked upon the earth in Genesis 6:12? What did He see? How had the earth become so corrupt?
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, we are surprised to have the Bible tell us that God was “sorry.” It’s a word that means to counsel oneself into a different mindset. Depending upon the context, English translations sometimes say “repent,” sometimes “comfort,” and sometimes (as here) “was sorry.”

Now, obviously God knows everything that will happen before He does anything, so why speak to us in this manner? Perhaps for the same reason that Genesis 6:6 goes on to say that He was “grieved in His heart.” Does God have a heart? Of course not—He has no parts at all. These two ideas are connected when we confess that God has neither parts nor passions (WCF 2.1).

But God created us with parts so that in our own finite way, we might be able to learn more about Him. When the Bible speaks of Him using language borrowed from our parts, it’s called an anthropomorphism. Similarly, when the Bible speaks of Him using language borrowed from our passions, it’s called an anthropopathism. The fact of the matter is that God is always in perfectly holy relation toward His creation. So, of course He is displeased by the wickedness of man. That is the (literally) perfect response to sin!

Really, there is a much bigger surprise than to find the Scripture talking about God being sorry that He has made man. That surprise is to find the Scripture saying that Noah was a righteous man—even calling him blameless in his generations and telling us that he walked with God. If Genesis 6:5 was true, how can these other things be? More to the point, How can God rightly permit this if what Noah deserves is to be given over to his own wickedness?

The answer is found in that remarkable Genesis 6:8. Noah found grace in the eyes of Yahweh. Or, to put the action upon the correct party, “Grace found Noah.” God determined that He would be gracious. He had made promises that demanded the covenant line be preserved. Sometimes that line hangs by a thread. But if that thread is the determination of God to bring about what He has promised in Christ, then the thread has an infinite “test weight,” and it will hold. Amazing grace!
What is the only way that you could end up righteous, blameless, and walking with God?
Suggested Songs: ARP33A-B “What Blessedness” or TPH130A “Lord, from the Depths to You I Cry!”

Friday, March 1, 2019

2019.03.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 10:7-21

Questions for Littles: Who is speaking in John 10:7? Whom does He say is the door of the sheep? What were those who came before (John 10:8)? What did the sheep not do with them? What will happen to someone who enters by Jesus (John 10:9)? What will that person do? What are the only reasons that a thief comes (John 10:10a)? Why has Jesus come (John 10:10b)? What does He call Himself in John 10:11? What does the good shepherd do? Who flees when the wolf comes (John 10:12)? What doesn’t he care about (John 10:13)? Whom does Jesus know (John 10:14)? Who know Him in verse 14? Who knows Him in John 10:15? Whom does He know? What does He do? What does He have (John 10:16a)? From where? What will He do to them? How will He bring them? How many flocks and shepherds will there be? Who loves Jesus in John 10:17? Why? Who takes Jesus’s life from Him in John 10:18? How does He lose it, then? How does He get it back? Why? What was there, again, among the Jews (John 10:19)? Why? What did many of them say in John 10:20? What did others say in John 10:21? What question did they ask?
In the Gospel reading this week, Jesus tells us about Himself as the Good Shepherd.

The first thing we learn about the Good Shepherd is that He Himself is the door. Perhaps John 10:7-9 has us scratching our heads: door to what? But the answer in John 10:10 is plain: the door to life, and that abundantly. The importance of following Jesus couldn’t be put more sharply. We are either plundered and killed and destroyed, or we are saved to have life, and more than enough of it.

The second thing we learn about the Good Shepherd is that He gives His life for the sheep. Why? Because He cares about them. Because He knows them. Because it is what His Father wants. Notice that the sheep are His Father’s and His long before Jesus comes to die for them. The distinguishing, saving love for those specific sheep is the cause of the dying!

Finally, we see even in the encounter in these verses that Jesus’s method for gathering those who belong to Him is by His preaching on who He is. Even though there is great opposition and great pressure to deny Him, there are those who are His sheep. These say, “these are not the words of one who has a demon.” Yes, they notice the miracles too (opening the eyes of the blind), but it is His voice that they hear!
In what activities do you “hear” the Lord’s voice? How else might you have responded? What has made that difference?
Suggested songs: ARP130 “Lord, From the Depths to You I Cried” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

Thursday, February 28, 2019

2019.02.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 4:1-7

Questions for Littles: What have Paul and his companions received for their ministry (2 Corinthians 4:1)? What do they not lose? What does he call the things that they have renounced in 2 Corinthians 4:2? In what do they refuse to walk? How do they refuse to handle the word of God? Instead, what do they do with the truth? To what aspect, then, of every man, do they commend themselves? In whose sight? What may happen to their gospel (2 Corinthians 4:3a)? But to whom would it be veiled (2 Corinthians 4:3b)? What does 2 Corinthians 4:4 call the devil? What has he done to those who are perishing? What do they not do? What does this veil keep them from seeing? Who is Christ, according to verse 4? What, then, do Paul and his companions not preach (2 Corinthians 4:5)? What do they preach? How do they consider themselves? Who does the work (2 Corinthians 4:6)? What else has He done about 4000 years prior? In whom else has He already done this spiritual counterpart to that work? Where does He shine? What light does He give? In whose face is the knowledge of this glory received? By what kind of vessel is this treasure conveyed (2 Corinthians 4:7)? What does this show?
In this week’s Epistle reading, the apostle explains why his ministry is not generally impressive to all. One might have (wrongly) expected that the ministry of an apostle would be impressive to anyone.

Paul’s ultimate response is that God alone is the impressiveness of the work, and those who are not impressed with Him are not going to find anything else to be impressed with in his ministry (2 Corinthians 4:7). This doesn’t bother him, because his ministry is not his idea or his pride. It as an assignment of God by the mercy of God. It may seem to be going poorly, but if it is of God, then there is no reason to lose heart!

Ironically, the apostle refers to superficially impressive ministry as “the hidden things of shame.” There is a way of handling the Word of God that looks impressive on the outside, but what you cannot see is that it is man-derived and man-dependent. But the apostles are not concerned with commending themselves to men’s admiration. They are concerned with commending themselves to men’s consciences. O that we would learn to see our life as an assignment from God and deal earnestly with others as those who will have to stand before Him!! How this might help us to stop living for their applause!

Will such a ministry have a hundred percent conversion rate? No and yes. In one sense, no. There are those who are perishing. And if the Lord has not atoned for them, and is not going to regenerate them, then what exactly are we supposed to be able to do about that? It is not just that they are unable to see God’s glory. It is also that they are not permitted. 2 Corinthians 4:4 says that God has set things up this way because He refuses to shine the light of the gospel upon them.

But in another sense, yes. Such a ministry will have a hundred percent conversion rate. For, the Lord is all powerful. He spoke light itself into existence. And He can speak spiritual light into existence in the hearts. And He does, because in the case of His elect, He is determined to give them the light of the knowledge of His glory in the face of Jesus Christ!
What kind of ministry should we look for in the church? Whom should we be looking to make it effective? With whom should we aim at being impressed? What aims and approaches are incompatible with this?
Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH172 “Speak, O Lord”

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

2019.02.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 16:1-17:18

Questions for Littles: Whose inheritances are described in this section (Joshua 16:1-4)? Which tribe, specifically, beginning in Joshua 16:5? Toward what did it go in Joshua 16:6? Where did it end in Joshua 16:7? Toward what did it go in Joshua 16:8? Where did it end? Whose inheritance was this? Where else did they have cities (Joshua 16:9)? What deficiency was there in their inheriting (Joshua 16:10)? Whose inheritance is described, beginning in Joshua 17:1? Who is mentioned first? Why? What did he receive? Who else receive a lot in Joshua 17:2? What problem did Zelophehad have (Joshua 17:3)? Whose descendant was he? Who come to Eleazar and Joshua in Joshua 17:4? Of what do they remind the high priest and the prophet? How many shares total does Manasseh receive (Joshua 17:5)? What had increased their total shares (Joshua 17:6)? What were their borders in Joshua 17:7-9? What tribes did they border (Joshua 17:10)? Where else did they have towns (Joshua 17:11)? What deficiency do we see again in Joshua 17:12-13? What complaint do Ephraim and Manasseh make in Joshua 17:14? On what grounds? What does Joshua say that they should do if these grounds are valid (Joshua 17:15)? How do they respond to that (Joshua 17:16)? And what is Joshua’s counter-response (Joshua 17:17-18)?
In this week’s Old Testament reading, we move from the inheritance of Judah to the inheritance of Joseph. This is a reminder that the Lord’s mercy and generosity are according to His undeserved grace, not according to human convention or tradition. Joseph was the second-youngest of the children. Even Judah was not the oldest. But inheritance of land and role in the Lord’s work are graces that are assigned by the Lord.

Furthermore, Ephraim is the greater of the two, even though he was the younger of the two. This continues a theme in Genesis that followed Seth, Isaac, Jacob, and now Ephraim. Over and over again throughout that book, and now here, God says “My goodness to you is all of grace.”

Yet, we see that God by His grace not only hands us things, but intends to sustain us in what we are called to do. In Joshua 17:16, Ephraim and Manasseh complain that it will be difficult to take the additional land that God is giving them, and the prophet’s response is, “yeah, but you’ll do it anyway.” How many children (and church members) could benefit from such a frank, loving response today?!

Of course, the fact that the Lord does things through us, sustaining us by grace, leaves us unsurprised when we see that sometimes we stumble and fall short in our part. Both Ephraim and Manasseh failed to drive out completely the Canaanites in their territories, and this would end up being a thorn in their side later on. The Lord is not surprised: in His providence, He permits us to see how faulty we are. Not so that we might blame Him (since the fault is entirely ours), but so that we might learn to be grateful for even the smallest successes in our duty (since the success is entirely from Him!).

Of course, this is setting us up to see that our ultimate inheritance must be earned, gained, and fulfilled by someone who does not fall short. The greater Joshua. Even Yeshua Himself. Praise Jesus!
Where have you fallen short? What are you going to do about that? Upon whom must you depend in this? What does that dependence look like? For what must you not even try to work, but only depend upon Him? How should we respond to His grace in either case?
Suggested songs: ARP130 “Lord, from the Depths” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

2019.02.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 4:1-13

Questions for Littles: Who did not enter God’s rest according to Hebrews 4:6? During whose time was there another chance to enter that rest (Hebrews 4:7)? Therefore, who had not given them rest (Hebrews 4:8)? What continues now (Hebrews 4:9), as long as some have the opportunity to enter God’s rest (Hebrews 4:10)? What is required for us to enter that rest (Hebrews 4:11a)? What would make us fall (Hebrews 4:11b)? What living, powerful thing do we need to respond to now (Hebrews 4:12)? Whom are we before, during preaching, and what will we have to give before Him later (Hebrews 4:13)?
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin all came from Hebrews 4:6-12. Here, we can see a glorious component of God’s original purpose for the Sabbath: to hold before Adam the promise of something even better than Eden. This is part of the covenant that Hosea 6:7 tells us that Adam broke. Not only had God given Adam that life in the garden; God also used the Sabbath to set before him the promise of an eternal life that was so much better that it could be called God’s own rest.

Sadly, it’s possible to know about and see God’s salvation, and be a member of His church, and still miss out on God’s glorious rest. It may be difficult for us to see this in Hebrews 4:3, which is quoting again from Psalm 95, “So I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest.”

We might at first think that God was talking about their missing out on entering the land that had been promised to Abraham. But Hebrews 4:8 makes an important point. The children of that generation did possess that land. But still, 500 years later, God is warning them in Psalm 95 to listen to preaching in corporate worship so that they will enter His rest.

This brings us back to the point of the Sabbath. Hebrews 4:4 sounds silly at first. God rested? Did creation make Him tired? He could have created billions of universes, in an instant, with His Word. What does it mean that God rested? It means that God gave the Sabbath as a way of inviting man into the fellowship of God’s rest. God’s rest was not for God; it was for us.

As glorious as the Sabbath itself is, Hebrews 4:5 proceeds to tell us that it is a taste of something to come, a rest that is yet to enter into. When does a man enter that rest? When our work, our time, in this life is done (Hebrews 4:10). Until then, we are to keep the weekly Sabbath (Hebrews 4:9, the word ‘rest’ is a different word than through the rest of the passage, that specifically means a rest every seventh day).

And how are we to keep it in a believing (Hebrews 4:3) and diligent (Hebrews 4:11) way? By being softhearted toward Christ’s razor sharp, piercing, discerning Word, as He addresses us, week by week, in the worship of God (Hebrews 4:12). As we sit before Him on earth, He addresses us in glory.

Whenever we are sitting there, let us remember that one day we must leave this life behind and stand before Him who sits on the throne of glory. If we really trust in Him, and believe in Him, then what we do with His Word will show it!
What do you do during the sermons in church? What can you do to listen more carefully? What has your interaction with the Lord looked like during services? What should it look like?
Suggested songs: ARP19B “The Lord’s Most Perfect Law” or TPH153 “O Day of Rest and Gladness”

Monday, February 25, 2019

2019.02.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 6:1-5

Questions for Littles: Who began to multiply (Genesis 6:1)? Where? Who were born to them? Who saw the daughters of men in Genesis 6:2? What did they see about them? What did they take? For whom? How were they selected? Who responds to this in Genesis 6:3? What does He say that His Spirit will not do forever? What does He say that man is? How long does He give man? What three things does Genesis 6:4 tell us about the children that came from these marriages? But what does Yahweh see (Genesis 6:5)? How much wickedness? In what parts of their lives? And how many of those intentions? How often?
In the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we encountered a surprising change in the course of mankind. If the first four verses were taken out, the passage would flow well, except for there would be no explanation for how we got to the place that the Lord looks down on the earth and sees almost entirely unregenerate men.

Things seemed to be going so well. There was an entire line of godly men who had begun calling upon the name of the Lord from the time at which Enosh was born. There was an entire line of godly men, who walked with God like Noah (Genesis 6:9)—Enoch doing so to the point that he didn’t even die, and God took him. There was an entire line of godly men who looked forward, like Noah’s father, to the son who would undo the curse.

Where did the line go? Down the drain of poor marriage choices. The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful and took as their wives whomever they chose. Like the children of Israel with the Moabites in Numbers 31, like Solomon with the foreign women who turned his heart away from the Lord (1 Kings 11), like the returned exiles with Nehemiah (Nehemiah 13), so here in Genesis 6, poor marriage choices bring a quick downfall of the godly. And so it has often been throughout history, so that the apostle must solemnly warn the church about it in 1 Corinthians 7.
What kind of person should a believer be? What kind of person should a believer marry? What is the danger if you don’t marry someone who is wholehearted after the Lord? 
Suggested Songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH128B “Lord, from the Depths to You I Cry!”

Saturday, February 23, 2019

"Don't Let the History Evangelists Outdo You!" -- Pastoral Letter from the 2019.02.24 Hopewell Herald

Hopewell Herald – February 23, 2019

Dear Congregation,

I was impressed recently by a gentleman in the Small Town Diner in Mt. Pleasant.

There I was, having breakfast with a friend, and one of us had said something that might loosely imply that we care about southern history, or even just had ideas that may be consistent with federalism as originally constituted in our nation.

It wasn’t long before this man was standing at our table, asking us about ourselves, and sharing his joy with us. The joy of having discovered his southern roots and ideals while living in the north as a northerner, and having moved down and learned so much since then. Before he left the table, he had provided us some literature and invited future contact.

Oh, that we would be like this with our Redeemer!

Have we not also realized that we were once living under the sway of our own rebellion? Did not the Lord completely change our mind, bring us to our senses as His dear lost children who had been hungering for the pigs’ slop, and come running to us, throw His arms ‘round us, and gather us back into the home?

Is this not our joy—and is not growing in our knowledge of Him not our privilege? And telling others of it, and inviting them to do so as well—is this not our mission?

Would that, if we were in a restaurant and overheard someone say something that might suggest a point of contact, we would:
·        Politely introduce ourselves
·        Find out something about them
·        Share briefly why we were so glad to hear what we did from them
·        Offer some material that shares with them the joy of Him whom we have discovered—and, in our case, who is the One who laid hold of us
·        Invite future contact for the comparing of notes, sharing of joy, and joining in mission

Of course, if we are to be steady in our “fanaticism,” we will have to be filling up constantly on the joy of Christ and His having redeemed us. This means an entire day, every week, filling up on the joy of the Lord and His gospel. And several times a day, privately and with our small-group/growth-group (family!), filling up on the joy of the Lord and His gospel.

Should the history buffs really be better evangelists than the Christians? God grant unto us that they would not be!

Looking forward to filling up with you tomorrow,


Read more in the weekly Hopewell Herald

2019.02.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 6:1-5

Questions for Littles: Who began to multiply (Genesis 6:1)? Where? Who were born to them? Who saw the daughters of men in Genesis 6:2? What did they see about them? What did they take? For whom? How were they selected? Who responds to this in Genesis 6:3? What does He say that His Spirit will not do forever? What does He say that man is? How long does He give man? What three things does Genesis 6:4 tell us about the children that came from these marriages? But what does Yahweh see (Genesis 6:5)? How much wickedness? In what parts of their lives? And how many of those intentions? How often?
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, we see how quickly godliness can evaporate via poor spouse choices. After last week’s expressions of gospel faith in the line of the godly, we should be horrified to see the results of these unequally yoked marriages.

Notice how these marriages came about. The sons of God, the line of the godly, take wives from the wrong group of maidens. They go outside the covenant to “the daughters of men.” And they take wives according to the wrong criteria—the only thing that we are told that they are noticing is “that they are beautiful” (and not with the adornment of modesty, good works, or a gentle and quiet spirit, as the Scripture defines a woman’s true beauty!). Finally, they take wives independently. They take for themselves whomever they chose. There is no taking of counsel here, no sense of continuing the covenant line under the wisdom of covenantal forebears… just the picking of a wife according to personal fancy.

So, what is the result of choosing wives from the wrong line, according to the wrong criteria, via a foolish process? We go from the sons of God calling upon the name of the Lord, walking with the Lord, and living by gospel hope, to a situation where on the entire earth there was one man who was a man of grace. One converted man on the face of the earth!

Never mind, that this was the age of giants, physically and metaphorically. Mighty men. Men of renown. Is the Lord supposed to be any more impressed with that than He was with the line of Cain? All He saw was wicked in themselves, or righteous in Christ. And a wrong approach to marriage choices had filled the earth with those who were outside of Christ, aliens to the church, strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world (cf. Ephesians 2:12).
What is your plan for helping the rising generation to make good spouse choices?
Suggested Songs: ARP127 “Unless the Lord Build…” or TPH128B “Blest the Man  Who…”