Saturday, March 23, 2019

2019.03.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 7:1-6

Questions for Littles: Who speaks in Genesis 7:1? To whom is He speaking? Where does He tell him to come? Who has seen [to it!] that Noah is righteous? Before Whom is Noah righteous? How many pairs of each clean animal is Noah to take (Genesis 7:2)? How many unclean? How many pairs each of the birds (Genesis 7:3)? What reason does verse 3 give? How many more days at this point until God acts (Genesis 7:4)? What is God going to make happen? For how long? What determined what Noah would do (Genesis 7:5)? How much of what was commanded did Noah do? How old was Noah when the floodwaters came on the earth (Genesis 7:6)? 
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, we learn whom the Lord saved, how the Lord saved him, and why the Lord saved him.

First, we learn whom the Lord saved. He saved Noah. And all his household. And all the animals that were with him. It is tempting to say that the Lord saved “the righteous ones,” (and more on that in a minute), but we would have a singular/plural problem at that point. There is only one righteous one in Genesis 7:1! I have seen (to it!) that you (singular!) are righteous before Me. Salvation from the flood is a lowercase-s salvation, but it imitates capital-s salvation because those who are saved are saved by being considered by God in the righteous one.

Second, we learn how the Lord saved. For seven people, and seven pairs of every bird and clean animal kind, and two (possibly two pairs) of every unclean animal kind, the Lord saved them by placing them with Noah. It was not that they were worthy—it was that they were in someone who is worthy. And the Lord saved them by placing them in an ark. He did not enable them, with assisting grace, to survive the onslaught of the storm for forty days and then to tread water for a year! It was not that they were able—it was that God provided them something that actually was able to survive the storm.

And, the Lord saved them by making Noah righteous. When He says “I have seen,” He uses the same language as in Genesis 22:8 and Genesis 22:14. It is the same verb as “see,” but it means what we mean when we say “I’ll see to that.” It is especially this way with the Lord, who ordains all that He sees. And it is even more especially this way with grace, in which the Lord overcomes guilt and weakness by overruling power. He saved through a provision of righteousness.

Capital-s salvation is like this even more: by the worthiness of a representative, by placing us who could never succeed in saving into a vessel that cannot fail to save, and by providing for us a righteousness that comes from Him alone.

Finally, we learn why the Lord saved. Space on the ark is, obviously, at a premium. The flying birds might serve some important functions, and most don’t take up much room. But seven pairs of every clean animal? Why? Mankind hasn’t even been granted to eat them yet! Well, that’s just the point, isn’t it? Mankind isn’t being saved in order that he might eat. Clean animals were useful primarily for one thing to this point. Sacrifice. Mankind was being saved only to worship!

This is what capital-s salvation is ultimately for. “If You, Yahweh, should count our sins against us, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You that You may be reverenced!” (Psalm 130:3-4).
Where/how can you get worthiness, ability, and righteousness for capital-s salvation?
Suggested Songs: ARP130 “Lord, from the Depths” or TPH130A “Lord, from the Depths to You I Cry!”

Friday, March 22, 2019

2019.03.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 1:19-36

Questions for Littles: What did the Jews want to know from John (John 1:19)? Whom did he say he was not (John 1:20-21)? Who/what did he say that he was (John 1:23)? With what did John baptize (John 1:26)? What did John call Jesus in John 1:29? What did he say Jesus would do? What reason does he give for Jesus being greater than he (John 1:30)? What does John say he saw in John 1:32? With what/whom does John say that Jesus will baptize (John 1:33)? Whom does he say that Jesus is in John 1:34
In the Gospel reading this week, the Jews are looking for the Christ, and they wonder if John the Baptizer is He. But he’s not the Christ. He’s not Elijah who would come first (cf. Malachi 4:5). He’s not the Prophet (cf. Deuteronomy 18:15).

Ironically, John didn’t even know it, but Jesus would later identify him as the Elijah who would come (cf. Matthew 17:11-13). What John did now is who Jesus is: Yahweh Himself, come to save us.

First, John identifies himself as going ahead to announce the arrival of the Yahweh (John 1:23, cf. Isaiah 40:3).

Second, even though Jesus is six months younger than John, John says that Jesus is greater than he is, because Jesus was before him (John 1:26-30).

Third, John presents Jesus’ ability to pour out the Holy Spirit as being like John’s ability to pour out water (John 1:33).

Finally, John directly says that Jesus is the Son of God (John 1:34). The son of man is man. The Son of God is God.

Four proofs that John knew Jesus is God—and he still begins to doubt when he’s imprisoned. Let us never be surprised at how our faith can waver!

But even more amazing than the fact that Jesus is God is what He came to be—not just a man, but a lamb. No, not a cute, little, wooly mammal. A sacrifice. A man whose blood would be shed to pay for sins—not just of one man but of men from all over the world.

As God, and the Lamb, there no one whom we must worship but Jesus, and no one whom we must trust in but Jesus.
How have you responded to Jesus’s divinity? To Jesus’s sacrifice?
Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH280 “Wondrous King, All Glorious”

Thursday, March 21, 2019

2019.03.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Corinthians 12

Questions for Littles: What is this passage “concerning” (1 Corinthians 12:1)? What does the apostle want them not to be? What had they been (1 Corinthians 12:2)? Regardless of how they were led, to what kind of idols had they been carried away? What had some who claimed to be speaking by the Spirit said about Jesus (1 Corinthians 12:3)? What were others saying when they were taken over by the Holy Spirit? By what diverse things did this Spirit-speech come (1 Corinthians 12:4)? What is another name for these gifts (1 Corinthians 12:5)? What is another (1 Corinthians 12:6)? But what is there only one of for this (1 Corinthians 12:4)? And only one of (1 Corinthians 12:5)? And only one of (1 Corinthians 12:6)? For whom were these manifestations being given (1 Corinthians 12:7)? What was one kind of word the Spirit gave (1 Corinthians 12:8a)? And another kind of word the Spirit gave (verse 8b)? And what were different signs that the Spirit gave about these words (1 Corinthians 12:9b1 Corinthians 12:10a, verse 10b, verse 10c, verse 10d, verse 10e)? And what was the Spirit, the Lord, the God who works all in all, working through these words that were being attested by these signs (1 Corinthians 12:9a1 Corinthians 12:11)? How many bodies does Christ have (1 Corinthians 12:12)? What do all members of the body have from the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13)? What do all do into the Spirit? How many members does the body have (1 Corinthians 12:14)? What should a member never say about itself (1 Corinthians 12:15-19)? What should a member never say about another member (1 Corinthians 12:20-21)? What should the members of the body be giving to one another according to 1 Corinthians 12:22-24? What should the members of the body be giving to one another according to 1 Corinthians 12:25? What else should we be doing for one another (1 Corinthians 12:26)? What activity (just as with 1 Corinthians 12:4-11) has the central focus in the roles described in 1 Corinthians 12:28-31? What would the “best gifts” be, and who would have them? What kind of way is the next passage going to describe? 
In this week’s Epistle reading, we hear about spiritual life. Notice that I did not write spiritual “gifts.” That is because they, in fact, are not the focus here. 1 Corinthians 12:1 does not mention gifts, but simply spiritual (things/life).

They had had no spiritual life previously, because they followed idols that could not talk. True, demons sometimes talked (and still were—saying that Jesus was still accursed!). But there was no true revelation, and there was no spiritual life through it.

That was a stark contrast with real spirituality, in real Christianity, which was all through the Word. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the Word. Naturally, everyone wanted to be one through whom the Word came, or through whom the Word-authenticating signs came.

But that wasn’t a role that was for everyone. What were the roles for everyone? Faith—which came only by the work of God the Holy Spirit!... nothing to sniff at!! And recognizing oneself as part of the body. And recognizing others as part of the body. And honoring those in the body who seemed to be the least. And not having division among the body but caring for every single member. And suffering with one another. And rejoicing over one another’s honors.

These were the real evidences of Holy-Spirit-power!
What 1 Corinthians 12 evidences of Holy Spirit power do you see? Can you be a part of?
Suggested songs: ARP51B “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH392 “Holy Ghost, Dispel Our Sadness”

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.
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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”