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…”