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Saturday, April 6, 2019

2019.04.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 8:1-19

Questions for Littles: Who remembered Noah in Genesis 8:1? Whom else did God remember? What did God make to pass over the earth? What happened to the waters? What windows were stopped up in Genesis 8:2? At what day did the waters begin to decrease (Genesis 8:3)? What result did this have upon the ark (Genesis 8:4)? Where? For how many months did the water decrease continually (Genesis 8:5)? When were the tops of the mountains seen? How much later did Noah open the window of the ark (Genesis 8:6)? What did he send out in Genesis 8:7? What did it do? What did he send out in Genesis 8:8? What couldn’t it do (Genesis 8:9)? So what did it do? How many more days was it until he sent out the dove again (Genesis 8:10)? With what did it return (Genesis 8:11)? What did Noah know at that point? How many more days until Noah sent the dove out the third time (Genesis 8:12)? What didn’t it do this time? What day was it now in Genesis 8:13? What did Noah remove? What did Noah see? How much longer after that was it until the earth was dry enough to be safe (Genesis 8:14)? How did Noah know when to go (Genesis 8:15)? Whom did God command to leave the ark (Genesis 8:16)? What did He command them to bring (Genesis 8:17)? What did they do (Genesis 8:18-19)?
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, the Lord underscores for us that redemption is a greater work even than creation. Creation had been pushed back to day 1. Yes, there were “day 5 creatures” on the ark in the birds, and there were “day 6 creatures” on the ark in the land animals and the humans. But the mercies of the first three creation days needed to be reinstated.

First, the darkness of the storm had to pass. And this happened after forty days and forty nights. But the water kept rising. Next, the protection of the firmament from creation day 2 had to be reinstated. So the windows of the heavens were stopped up in Genesis 8:2. It helps to know that the “wind” of Genesis 8:1 is the same word as the “Spirit” of God in Genesis 1, Who had hovered over the face of the waters. Finally, the water had to go down enough that dry land would appear, plants would grow, and the land would be safe for the other creatures. And all of this happens in today’s Scripture. Finally, the mercies of the third creation day have been reinstated!

But the greatest mercy is the Word of God. God is still in fellowship with man. God is still caring for man. God is still saving man. We see these things in the wonderful phrase, “Then God spoke to Noah.”

What does God say? He basically says that He has restored man’s relationship with Him to one of blessing similar to what it was in the original creation. Once again, He is pleased for the earth to be full of them, “be fruitful and multiply on the earth.”

Oh the mercy of God, who reinstates creation blessings even for such sinners as we are! Oh, the greatness of Jesus, the Savior in Whom God does so! What a privilege to have fellowship with Him by His Word!
What undeserved creation blessings do you enjoy? How is the Word of God a greater blessing—what (Whom!) is the blessing you receive in the Word?
Suggested Songs: ARP8 “Lord, Our Lord” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

Friday, April 5, 2019

2019.04.07 Confession of Sin

As we continue working our way through Psalm 149 in the beginning part of the service on the coming Lord's Day, we will find Psalm 149:5-9 convicting (alongside also James 4:4-6 and Romans 14:23). And thus, we will confess our sin together in the following words. May the Spirit help us to pray sincerely, softening our hearts to acknowledge before God the truth about our remaining sin!
Psalm 149
    5      Let the saints be joyful in glory;
    Let them sing aloud on their beds.
    6      Let the high praises of God be in their mouth,
    And a two-edged sword in their hand,
    7      To execute vengeance on the nations,
    And punishments on the peoples;
    8      To bind their kings with chains,
    And their nobles with fetters of iron;
    9      To execute on them the written judgment—
    This honor have all His saints.
    Praise the LORD!

2019.04.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 11:33-44

Questions for Littles: Who saw Mary weeping in John 11:33? Whom else did He see weeping? What did He do in His Spirit? What did He ask in John 11:34? What did they answer? How did Jesus respond to their answer in John 11:35? What observation did the Jews make when He responded that way (John 11:36)? But what did some of them ask in John 11:37? What did Jesus do “again” in Himself in John 11:38? Where did He go? What did Jesus say to do in John 11:39? Who answered Him? What did she say? What does Jesus ask her about in John 11:40? What had He told her? What did they do in John 11:41? How does Jesus begin His prayer? What does Jesus say that He knows in John 11:42? Because of whom does He pray out loud the way that He does here? What does He want them to do? What does Jesus cry out in John 11:43? What does Lazarus do in John 11:44? What does he look like? What does Jesus say to do with him?  
In the Gospel reading this week, we see the great compassion of our Lord Jesus.

Jesus cares about our pain. Perhaps we expect that Jesus will be moved by Mary’s weeping. After all, she is His friend, and we have already heard that He loves her. We are prone to forget that people like Mary (and ourselves) are fully deserving of Christ’s anger, not His sympathy.

So the Spirit tells us that it was also the weeping of the Jews that moved Jesus to groan. The Jews?! Yes. The ones who had recently tried to stone Him, so that the apostles didn’t even want to come near Judea. Jesus responded to the sight of their tears by groaning in His Spirit (John 11:33). Jesus responded to the sound of their grieving voices with tears of His own! (John 11:34-35).

Jesus also cares about our souls. It matters to Him that the John 11:36 Jews don’t see that Jesus’s groans and tears are for all of them, not just Lazarus. It matters to Him even that the more outwardly hostile Jews in John 11:37 are attacking Him instead of believing. He prays for them. He prays that they would believe. And He thanks God for hearing His prayers for them! Oh, what comfort is this—that the heart of our Lord Jesus in heaven is that heart that prayed for hard sinners even while He was on earth. Is He not there even now, praying for us that we would believe?!

But believe what? John 11:40 hints at the answer. We must believe what Jesus says about Himself. “Did I not say to you?,” He asks Martha. And His speech to Martha has had the same effect on her soul as His speech to Lazarus has upon his body. She has believed what He said about Himself. His words did bring her soul to life, so that she believed that He is the Christ, the Son of God who is the Creator Himself that entered the cosmos.

Jesus has also told you, dear reader, that if you believe you will see in Him the very glory of God!
What are some things Jesus has said to you about Himself? Pray to believe them!
Suggested songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken to My Lord” or TPH280 “Wondrous King”

Thursday, April 4, 2019

2019.04.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 6:1-7:1

Questions for Littles: In what manner does the apostle plead with the Corinthians not to receive the grace of God (2 Corinthians 6:1)? How (Who) makes the difference in how they receive it (2 Corinthians 6:2)? In addition to the plain speaking of the Word (chapters 4-5), what do 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 present as the apostolic strategy for appealing to this wayward congregation? What were they willing to have happen to themselves? How were they willing to be thought of if necessary? What does the apostle say is the actual problem that is making the Corinthians think little of the apostolic ministry (2 Corinthians 6:11-13)? What does 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 imply has caused this hard-heartedness toward the apostles? Upon whose fellowship and presence with them should the Corinthians be more focused (2 Corinthians 6:16)? What must they do, if they are going to value their fellowship with God (2 Corinthians 6:17)? What kind of fellowship is God offering to them (2 Corinthians 6:18)? What result should focusing upon fellowship with God produce (2 Corinthians 7:1)?
In this week’s Epistle reading, the apostle continues the theme of how it is his hope in God alone for the Corinthians that has him determined to minister only in the way that God has commanded.

He wants them to know one thing: he doesn’t care to be treated well or thought of well. He cares only to be faithful before God and an example of faithfulness before men—however they respond to it. This faithfulness leaves them without excuse, because it is not despising and hard-hearted. Rather, in the midst of purity and truth and holiness and righteousness, this faithfulness is also patient and sacrificial and kind and sincerely loving and humble. Let those who despise such things go ahead and despise us!

The problem, however, was that the Corinthians did not want to be despised. They wanted badly to be accepted and admired. They wanted fellowship with the world. But biblical kindness to the world and fellowship with the world are actually incompatible!

Biblical kindness comes from being the sons and daughters of God, who love their enemies in the way that Christ did—and you see how unpopular that made Jesus! This family resemblance comes not from fellowship with the world but rather from fellowship with God.

How precious that God Himself dwells in us and walks among us! O that He would grant to us that we would treasure His precious fellowship! Then, rather than being sucked down to filthiness by the desire for the world’s friendship, we would be lifted up to holiness by delight in God’s fellowship!
Whom do you need to be loving with a holiness that they might despise? What are the means by which the Lord has given us to grow in delighting in His fellowship?
Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH164 “God Himself Is with Us”

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

2019.04.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 22

Read Joshua 22
Questions for Littles: Whom does Joshua call to himself in Joshua 22:1? For what does he praise them in Joshua 22:2-3? What observation does Joshua make about God in Joshua 22:4? What does he command the 2½ tribes to do in Joshua 22:5? What does he do to them as he sends them away in Joshua 22:6-8? What do these tribes build, when they return to their region (Joshua 22:10)? Who hear about it in Joshua 22:11? What do they decide to do about it in Joshua 22:12? But whom do they send first, before the army, in Joshua 22:13-15? What does this delegation ask in Joshua 22:16-18? What do the 9.5 tribes offer to the 2.5 tribes in Joshua 22:19-20? What do the 2.5 tribes say that the altar is NOT for doing in Joshua 22:21-26? What do they say that the altar IS for, in Joshua 22:27-29? How does the delegation from the 9.5 tribes respond to this explanation (Joshua 22:30)? Why are they so glad that the altar is not for sacrifices (Joshua 22:31)? How does the rest of Israel respond to the report from their delegation (Joshua 22:32-33)? What do Reuben and Gad call the altar in Joshua 22:34
In this week’s Old Testament reading, we have a passage that hardly makes sense in an age of the church in which many churches make worshiping in their own style into a weekly event. For the Israelites, however, they still had pretty fresh memories of how seriously God takes to be worshiped in only the way that He has commanded.

In fact, when 4/5 of Israel thinks that the other 1/5 have invented their own worship style, they get ready to go to war, since it would be better to wipe out that 1/5 than to have the entire nation wiped out. How humbling that these Israelites, whose history generally makes us blush for their repeated unfaithfulness, would outdo so much of today’s Christian church in their seriousness about worshiping the Lord only in the way that He prescribes!

Happily, the altar was not for worship but for witness. It’s actually rather ironic—they had built the altar intentionally to remind themselves NOT to worship with such an altar. They intended to remind themselves that only Yahweh is God, and that the only proper altar for sacrifice was the one at the tabernacle.

In the end, both groups wanted the same thing: to affirm that there is only one true God, who Himself is the One who decides on the one true way of worship, and that truly belonging to His people starts with knowing and practicing this truth!
Who is our tabernacle now? Is there any other way of coming to God? What are some things by which we are tempted to measure “good” worship? What is the true measure of what makes worship good or right?
Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH164 “God Himself Is with Us”

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

2019.04.03 Prayer Meeting Folder

Click [here] for a PDF of tomorrow's prayer meeting folder. As you can see from the schedule on the folder, we have a brief devotional by which we seek for the Spirit to stir us up to prayer by the Scriptures, and then we simply pray together for an hour.

2109.04.07 Opening of Worship

The opening portion of our worship service this coming Lord's Day comes from Psalm 149:1-4. This Psalm highlights the Lord's pleasure in His people's assembly in the temple. It refers to the assembly of the saints, the location of Zion, the King (of kings!), and the Levitical musicians' ministry that prefigured the current heavenly ministry of Christ as our Great High Priest.
    1      Praise the LORD!
    Sing to the LORD a new song,
    And His praise in the assembly of saints. 
    2      Let Israel rejoice in their Maker;
    Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
    3      Let them praise His name with the dance;
    Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel                          and harp.
    4      For the LORD takes pleasure in His people;
    He will beautify the humble with salvation.


2019.04.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ Revelation 4

Tuesday, April 2, 2019 ▫ Read Revelation 4
Questions for Littles: What did John see open in heaven in Revelation 4:1? What did the voice he heard sound like? What did the voice say? In what did he immediately find himself in Revelation 4:2? What did he see in heaven? With what words does he try to describe what he saw in Revelation 4:3? How many thrones were there altogether (cf. Revelation 4:4)? Who sat on the other 24? With what were they clothed? What did they have on their heads? What was the great/main throne like in Revelation 4:5? What was in front of the throne’s platform (Revelation 4:6a)? What was on the throne’s platform (Revelation 4:6b)? How does verse 6 communicate that one purpose of the living creatures was to behold the throne? How does Revelation 4:7 communicate that the living creatures represent all living creatures? How does Revelation 4:8 communicate that the living creatures have the same ultimate purpose as the burning ones (seraphim) of Isaiah 6:1-10 (cf. John 12:40-41)? How often do they take a rest? What are they doing all this time without rest? What, specifically, do they say about God three times? And then what do they say about God? And then what? How does Revelation 4:9 begin? So, how often is Revelation 4:10 happening? Who falls down before Him who sits on the throne (verse 10)? What else do they do? What do they do with their crowns? Of what do they say the Lord is worthy (Revelation 4:11)? Why?
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin all came from Revelation 4:1-11. Here, we have a window into the praise of heaven, and what we find is the most amazing creatures (Revelation 4:8-9), and the most honored among glorified humanity (Revelation 4:10-11) praise God for things that are only true of God, and not even the most glorified creature.

First, God is holy. He alone has holiness inherent to Himself. The only way anything else becomes holy is by association with Him, by being set apart unto Him or near Him. We should be amazed at His holiness. These amazing creatures do not rest, day or night, in amazement at His holiness. They never tire of the holiness of God. They never begin to find it boring.

Similarly, only God is Almighty. Everything and everyone else is limited in power, and dependent upon God for their very existence from one moment to the next.

And only God is eternal—without any beginning. He just was. It seems to be to this that the elders are responding when they answer, with praise of their own, the praise of the four living creatures. When they hear that God is the only eternally existent being—that He had no beginning at all—they are reminded that He alone is the Creator of all things. Everything literally owes its existence to Him.

And that, of course, includes us. There is no honor or recognition or authority that we have, except that which ultimately belongs to Him, and we must lay it at His feet! So, let us learn not only to be impressed with Him, but also (importantly) to be unimpressed with ourselves!

Wonderfully, when we look at Isaiah 6:1-10 with John 12:40-41, we realize that this glory that belongs to God alone is actually the glory of Jesus Christ—God Himself who became man to save us!
Of what are you tempted to be proud? What is the danger of missing out on who Jesus is and how glorious Jesus is? What activities does He use to humble you about yourself and show you His glory instead? What use will you make of these activities for your own soul?
Suggested songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken to My Lord” or TPH230 “Holy, Holy, Holy!”

Monday, April 1, 2019

2019.04.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 7:7-24

Questions for Littles: Where did Noah go in Genesis 7:7? Who went with him? Because of what? What else went with him (Genesis 7:8)? How did they enter (Genesis 7:9)? Why was it done this way? What happened after seven days (Genesis 7:10)? How does Genesis 7:11 make it plain that this is an historical event? How does it emphasize Noah’s actual age at the time? What does this tell us about other men’s ages of this period, which were similar to Noah’s? How long did it rain (Genesis 7:12)? What do Genesis 7:13-15 emphasize about how long it took to enter the ark? Who are named in Genesis 7:13? What else entered with them (Genesis 7:14)? How did they come onto the ark (Genesis 7:15)? What was in them? Who had commanded this (Genesis 7:16)? Who shut them all in the ark? How long did it rain (Genesis 7:17)? What did the increased waters do to the ark? Where did it rise? What does Genesis 7:18 say about the waters? What did the ark do in Genesis 7:18? What does Genesis 7:19 say about the waters? What were covered? What does Genesis 7:20 say about the waters? What were covered? Which flesh is first mentioned as dying in Genesis 7:21? Who are mentioned last in Genesis 7:21? What body-part does Genesis 7:22 mention? Of what does this remind us (cf. Genesis 2:7)?  How does Genesis 7:23 restate Genesis 7:21-22? What does it add at the end? What does Genesis 7:24 say about the waters? How long did they prevail, before they even began to recede?
In the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we saw God saving sinners. Well, we certainly saw God punishing sinners—an entire world of them—with destruction in the flood. But that was no surprise. What was surprising is that for eight sinners, God was saving them!

For the eight sinners of Noah, God commanded a method of salvation, which Noah obeyed (Genesis 7:9). For the eight sinners of Noah, God shut them in the ark where they were safe (Genesis 7:16). For the eight sinners of Noah, rather than trapping them in destruction, the waters lifted them out of it (Genesis 7:17). For the eight sinners of Noah, in the midst of God’s wrath, God remembered mercy, and they remained alive (Genesis 7:23, cf. Habakkuk 3:2).

Here is a picture of what happens to sinners through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus is a Mediator better than Noah—all who belong to Him are safe for His sake from the wrath of God at the judgment. Jesus is Safety better than the ark—all who are found inside Him are lifted into heaven instead of being destroyed in Hell. Jesus is the great Substitute. He suffered Hell on the cross—the Just one died for the unjust!

We’re all sinners. The great question for us is whether we are clinging to Jesus as God’s salvation for us!
When will you leave this life? When you do so, will you do so safely in Jesus?
Suggested Songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH470 “When This Passing World Is Done”