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Saturday, January 26, 2019

2019.01.27 Corporate Confession of Sin

Our confession of sin for this Lord's Day morning--like the Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Song of Adoration--comes from Psalm 46. As we have our thoughts shaped by this Psalm through the first portion of the service, the Scripture exposes us as not resting in the Lord as we ought to. Praise God that it does not take perfect or even mighty faith in Christ, but only the weakest genuine faith, to be joined to Him, and counted righteous on the merits of His perfect resting!


2019.01.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 4:1-7

Questions for Littles: What did Adam do to Eve in v1? What did she do? What does she say? What does she name the second son (v2)? What does he do? What job does Cain do? How long does Cain take to bring an offering (v3)? How long does it take Abel to bring his offering (v4)? Which offering does he bring? What does Yahweh think of Abel and Abel’s offering? What did Yahweh think of Cain and Cain’s offering (v5)? How does Cain respond? What does Yahweh ask Cain in v6? What does He promise Cain in v7? What does He warn Cain that his sin wants to do to him? What does He command Cain that he must do to his sin?
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, worship takes center stage.

By the Lord’s grace to them, Adam and Eve are getting along. The consequences of their fall into sin were not the final word on their marriage. In fact, Adam knows his wife so well that it results in their having a baby!

Eve is so excited about the baby that she declares that with Yahweh, she has acquired the child. In fact, the same Hebrew letters that make the preposition “with” can also just be the sign of the direct object. It’s possible that she actually thinks that the baby she has just borne is somehow connected to Yahweh Himself.

This isn’t too far-fetched. We know the incarnation is now a reality and that it wasn’t plan B—God planned this from before time began (Rom 8:28-29). If she knew that she was going to bear someone who could crush the serpent, perhaps the Lord blessed her to understand that He Himself would be one of Her descendants. So there’s worship in her childbearing.

And there’s worship in the boys’ work. Of course, there’s a timing difference. Cain brings an offering “at the end of days.” Offering to the Lord is the last thing on his mind. Abel is exactly the opposite. He brings the first part and the  best part.

Third, there is worship in mortification. That’s a big word that means the process by which the Lord enables us to kill sin. Here, we see him giving Cain instruction and urging him that he would indeed be accepted if he repented.

But there is more here than the “if you do well.” There is also the warning about what sin is like. It is such a ruthless oppressor and hunter that if we are not actively killing our sin, then our sin will be actively killing us. The Lord presents this tension in such a manner to communicate that these really are the only two options.
How do you worship the Lord in your family relationships? In your work? In killing sin?
Suggested Songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH130A “Lord, from the Depths to You I Cry!”

Friday, January 25, 2019

190125FW John 8:12-20 - Jesus Is the Only Light by Which We May Know God

An imperfect, but hopefully helpful, sample of a family worship lesson in John 8:12-20

2019.01.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 8:12-20

Questions for Littles: Who speaks in v12? What does He say about Himself? What will happen to those who follow Him? Who complain about his testimony (v13)? What do they claim as proof that Jesus is not telling the truth? What does Jesus say about His own witness (v14)? What two things does He say that He knows, that He also says that the don’t know? How do they judge (v15)? Whom has Jesus judged so far? With whom will He eventually judge (v16)? What kind of testimony does Jesus say is true in v17? Whom does He present as His two witnesses in v18? What do the people want to know then (v19)? Now what two things does Jesus say they do not know? How can it be true that they don’t know Jesus? Where was Jesus when He taught these things? Why couldn’t anyone lay hands on him? 
In the Gospel reading this week, Jesus announces Himself as the light of the world. This isn’t just external light, but internal light.

The darkness of v13 is stunning. They are unable to see Jesus. They are unable to believe in Him. In fact, Jesus tells them that they do not know where He is from or where He is going. In other words, they do not know the Father at all. What a tragedy!

They understand that Jesus is saying this, but they don’t understand what the significance of it is: that His Father is the living God! They are actually dull-witted enough to follow that statement up by asking as to the location of His Father! Jesus makes it more plain: “You know neither Me…” stop right there!

Here, we see that there is knowing Jesus, and that there is really knowing Jesus. When He says, “you do not know Me,” Jesus is not saying, “you do not know many facts about My life.” Instead, He is saying that they have not come to Him to follow Him. So, they are walking in darkness, and have no light.

It seems like a catch 22. If you don’t know Jesus, you won’t have light. But you need to know Jesus to get light!

The good news is that we can ask Jesus for all that we need. Since He gives light, then we can say with confidence, “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!
How does your prayer life reflect a desire to know Jesus better? When you have spiritual difficulty, how do you typically respond?
Suggested songs: ARP32A “What Blessedness” or TPH459 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

Thursday, January 24, 2019

2019.01.27 Congregational Prayer for Help from Psalm 46:4-11

Our prayer for help for this Lord's Day comes from Psalm 46:4-11. Upon being called to worship from the same Psalm, we will cry out for help unto Him who is our Mighty Fortress, before following with the song by that name, which is also a paraphrase of this Psalm


190124FW 2Cor 1:8-14 - God WILL Give You More Than You Can Handle

An imperfect, but hopefully helpful, sample of a family worship lesson in 2Corinthians 1:8-14.

2019.01.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 1:8-14

Questions for Littles: What doesn’t the apostle want them to be (v8)? About what? How bad was there trouble? What kind of “sentence” had been pronounced upon them in this part of their lives (v9a)? To make them trust in Whom? What does God do? What had He done (v10a)? What will He continue to do (v10b-c)? Who gets to participate in believers’ deliverance from God (v11a,c)? Why does God deliver in this way (v11b)? Whose (what’s!) testimony is at the center of their rejoicing in v12? How had they NOT conducted themselves? In what three ways had they conducted themselves INSTEAD? And more abundantly toward whom (end of v12)? In what activity, was the apostles conduct “toward” the Corinthians (v13)? What does he want them to do about himself and his companion ministers (v14)? In whom?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we continue learning last week’s lesson of the usefulness of our troubles. In particular, we learn the usefulness of troubles that we have no chance at being deluded enough to think that we can handle. It’s amazing that anyone ever had the rubbish idea that God would never give you more than you can handle, when Scripture constantly tells us that we can’t handle anything!

Here, the volume of that message gets turned up a notch. God intentionally gives believers the kind of trouble that would make an apostle despair of life. Why? So that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead. However well intentioned, those who tell believers that God is not giving them more than they can handle are robbing them of the very faith in which there is resurrection power!

Of course, if we can handle nothing, and God has to handle everything by His grace, where does that leave us? Well, it leaves us in v12. It leaves us not depending upon fleshly wisdom, which could never avail anyway. It leaves us focusing instead upon single-mindedness toward Him (simplicity). It leaves us focusing instead upon Godly sincerity. It leaves us freed from trying to preserve ourselves, in order to attend to serving others.

And, of course, it also leaves us thanking God for how HE has enabled others to serve us from the midst of their troubles. It wasn’t only the Corinthians unto whom the apostle had written and “all the more abundantly” ministered. It was unto us, today.

In all of this wonderful, gracious work that God does, He not only blesses us, but He gives us opportunity to participate in His blessing others. By being those through whose prayer He saves (v11a). By being those from whose circumstances others learn (vv12b-13a). By being those on account of whose circumstances thanksgiving abounds to God (v11cv14)!
Through what troubles is God taking you? Taking other believers? For what reasons? 
Suggested songs: ARP173 “Dependence on God for Salvation” or TPH256 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Morning Worship Documents for the Upcoming Lord's Day (2019.01.27) Now Available

The Worship Folder and Service Notes for the coming Lord's Day morning are now available. Please avail yourself of them as you prepare for and anticipate corporate worship! As always, the Service Notes will be continually updated at the green link, right up until the service begins.

2019.01.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 13:7-33

Questions for Littles: What does God tell Joshua to do with the land in v7a? To which tribes? How much of Manasseh? With whom had the other half of Manasseh inherited (v8)? Who had given it to them (cf. v32a)? What was his title? What kind of topography had they inherited (v9, v11, v32b)? Whose kingdoms had these areas been (v10, v12a)? What were the people like (v12b)? Although the land was conquered, who were not driven out (v13)? Which tribe had received no inheritance (v14a, v33a)? What (Who!) was their inheritance (v14b, v33b)? Which tribe’s inheritance is described in vv15-23? What kind of topography did it have (v16)? What cities (v17-20)? Which ruler and rulers had it had (v21)? Whom else had they had to defeat? Which tribes inheritance is described in vv24-28? Which cities (vv25-27a)? What topography (v27)? What king (v27)? What (half!) tribe’s inheritance is described in vv29-31? What topography and cities? What king?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we again have a passage about promises kept. It doesn’t make for great devotional topic variety, but it does make for great devotional comfort, and we will soon grow accustomed to this being the topic of our Joshua passage! After all, the great theme of the book, as recognized in one great commentary by the same name, is “No Falling Words” (cf. 21:45 and again in 23:14).

So, there is the kept promise of God about the land of the 2½ tribes. Plains, river valleys, rivers, a great mountain slope. This was premium real estate. They had been granted it almost a generation ago now, but only the wives and children had been able to begin settling down. Truly possessing the land had had to wait. And now they were coming back. Promises kept to the 2½.

And there is the kept promise of God about the land of the 9½ tribes. The reason the 2½ were free to come back now was that the land west of the Jordan had been conquered. In exchange for the land east of the Jordan, they had promised to fight with their brothers of the 9½. The fact that they can come back now shows that God has kept the promise of subduing the land on the west.

Which brings us, of course, to the promise kept by the 2½ tribes. Any measure of faithfulness by men is a gift from God. When it happens among the people of God, it is a display of His character in them. How many peoples in world (or church) history have made a contingent promise, but then kept it even after they really had an opportunity to take their share and cop out? Even man’s kept promises testify to God’s grace!

Finally, there is the most important kept promise of all. In all Scriptural likelihood, in the New Heavens and New Earth, there will be a region that corresponds to what was then the promised land. Even so, the land itself was not the point of the land! Rather, nearness to the Lord Himself was the point of the land. Levi got left out of the land promise (awwwww!) because he received its benefit far more directly in the priesthood (AHHHH!).

What do all believers ultimately receive? Better than the best of both!  New Heavens and New Earth, with the dwelling of God among His people. Adoption by God. Union with Christ. The indwelling of the Spirit. Promises kept!
When, in your life, do you take time to rest in, relish, and rejoice God’s kept promises?
Suggested songs: ARP180 “Christ Shall Have Dominion” or TPH89B “My Song Forever Shall Record”

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

2019.01.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 104

Read Psalm 104
Questions for Littles: How does this Psalm begin in the first two lines of v1 and end in the last two lines of v35? With what is God clothed (v1-2)? What are like house and chariot for Him (v2-3)? What was the Lord’s part in creation (v5)? In the flood (v6)? In the restoration (v7-9)? What has the Lord done for His various creatures, according to v10-14 and v16-22? What three things did God invent/create for man, and for what purposes (v15)? What does man spend his day doing (v23)? How does God’s work compare (v24-26)? For what do all creatures depend upon the Lord in v27-28? For what do they depend upon Him in v29-30? What belongs to the Lord in v31a? In v31b? How do v33-34 correspond to that? Comparing v32 and v35a, what do those verses show about God? With their placement in the middle of delighting in God and glorifying Him, how are we to respond to these truths about the Lord? 
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Song of Adoration all came from Psalm 104. This Psalm puts God in His place.

It praises Him as the Creator of an amazing world with amazing variety. It praises Him as the One who sustains all of His creatures from the smallest to the largest, from the least intelligent to man, from the defenseless to the powerful.  It praises Him as the One who continuously rules and overrules everything according to His sovereign will.

Man works hard to grow and process wine, and oil, and grain. But it is the Lord who invested these with the ability to gladden man, and give him strength and health. Our ability to work and produce and enjoy are all great privileges, because they are ways that God has permitted us to imitate Him in the creation.

But that’s just the point: even with all of our privileges, we are creatures. He is the Creator. Let us also imitate His generosity, His tender care. Generosity and kindness are becoming to those created in the image of such a Lord as we know and worship.

Still, let us not miss that the Lord saved the first half of v35 for the final thing for which to praise the Lord: His wrath and justice. With a Lord so glorious, it is the greatest of evils to fail to praise Him, let alone even to rebel against Him! Therefore, it is one of His great glories that He does not leave this unpunished.

As we obey the command at the beginning and end of this Psalm, to bless the Lord and praise Him with our whole soul, let us recognize the One in whom all of these meet: His generosity, His love, His power, His justice, His wrath—all are best seen in the cross of Christ!
For which of God’s attributes, do you most need to increase appreciation? How will you? 
Suggested songs: ARP104C “The Trees of the Lord” or TPH219 “O Worship the King”

Monday, January 21, 2019

Upcoming Sermon: January 27, 2019 - Genesis 4:1-5 - "Covenant Children"

In the morning sermon text on the coming Lord's Day, Adam and Eve start bearing children into the newly minted Covenant of Grace. The results are mixed, as we see childbearing by faith, working by faith (and not), and worshiping by faith (and not). More sobering, we will see that how we respond when confronted by the truth of our falling short may reveal a deeper underlying problem and might portend greater griefs to come. Won't you join us for worship, the 27th, at 11:00a.m.?

2019.01.20 Morning Sermon - Life for Sinners

The audio for yesterday's morning sermon has been uploaded. God has given life to sinners! Rather than seeing the account of the fall end with "dying you shall die," we found that it ended with, "living you shall live." In Genesis 3:20-24, we saw life praised by the redeemed, life provided for the fallen, life pictured in a sacrifice, and life promised in the Lord's preserving plan and power.

2019.01.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 3:20-24

Questions for Littles: What does Adam call his wife (v20)? Why? Of whom is she the mother? Who made tunics for Adam and his wife (v21)? Of what did He make them? What else did He do? Whom did Yahweh say the man had become like (v22)? In what way? What might the man put out his hand to take? To do what with it? Why? Where did Yahweh send the man (v23)? To do what? What did God place at the east of the garden of Eden (v24)? What else did He place? What did it do? To guard what?
The Scripture for this week’s sermon was all about life.

First, we saw life praised. Adam has heard what the Lord said about his wife. She would be the mother of the Seed who would crush the serpent’s head. She would also be the mother of the entire line of those between whom and the serpent the Lord would put enmity. She is going to be the mother of all the living.

Isn’t that amazing, after man’s fall into sin? There is going to be a line of the living! In honor and praise of this wonderful fact, he renames his wife “life.”

Next, we saw life provided. Adam and Eve had failed to cover themselves with the fig leaves. Yet, the problem wasn’t so much that their skin was exposed as it was that their sin was exposed. Now, God Himself provides the covering. This is a covering that will protect them physically, as they are put out of paradise into the harsher world. And, they know that it covers them spiritually as well, for God Himself has provided it.

Third, we see life pictured. The only true way to the only true life is through Jesus Christ. We have no righteousness or life in ourselves. We cannot even die or suffer well enough to satisfy God’s justice for our sin. Were we to try, it would go on for all eternity and never be sufficient. But, we see Adam and Eve with a covering that is sufficient for them. What is that covering? A substitute. We do not know if it were a lamb or a cow. But we do know to whom it points forward: the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world—Jesus Christ!

Finally, we see life promised. God does not destroy the tree of life. In fact, we will see it again in the New Heavens and New Earth. What He does do is block off the way to it via Eden. He puts the cherub there to indicate that God’s presence is still available, and He puts the sword there to indicate that the way to His presence is going to be by some other means.

In other words, there will be a new way into the presence of the Lord. Hebrews calls it, “that new and living way, which is His flesh.” Jesus, the Son of God made man, and crucified, and risen… He Himself is the way, the truth, and the life.
What habits do you have of rejoicing over and responding to God’s life for you?
Suggested Songs: ARP32A-B “What Blessedness” or TPH265 “In Christ Alone”