Saturday, April 13, 2019

2019.04.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 8:20-22

Questions for Littles: What did Noah build in Genesis 8:20? To whom? What did he do from every kind of clean animal and bird? Who smelled a soothing aroma (Genesis 8:21)? Where did Yahweh speak? What would He never do again? Why not? What eight things does the Lord promise to continue without ceasing in Genesis 8:22
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, we see that the Covenant of Grace continues. That’s a fancy theological term, so let’s see it from the text.

First, there is a Covenant of Grace. God has created a way by which sinful man can live with Him in hope of full redemption. The strange logic of the Covenant of Grace says, “I will forgive man because he is hopelessly sinful” (Genesis 8:21). Man’s continued sinfulness seems more of a provocation of God’s justice than a good reason never to curse the ground again.

Ah, but there is more in God than justice! There is also faithfulness (to the promises that He has made) and goodness (everlasting love in Himself). There is a willingness to display His mercy and glory in Jesus Christ, and His perfect wrath and justice at the cross of Christ! The root of salvation is only in God Himself. Because He is faithful. Because He is good. Because He is love. Because He is merciful. Because He is glorious. Because He is Triune.

But, of course, the Lord displays His justice and wrath also. So, we see the provision of the sacrifices. And what a lot of sacrifices! At least one of every single clean animal or bird (Genesis 8:20). This is just the tip of the iceberg. How many sacrifices would have to be offered day after day, year after year, until Christ would come and offer Himself as the actually effective sacrifice—who would cleanse us by the offering up of Himself once for all by a single sacrifice (cf. Heb 10:1-14).

This solves the interesting puzzle of the aroma. Does God really like the smell of roasting meat? Of course, it’s nothing so corporeal as that. But He does love His Son. He is well-pleased with His Son. And, as all of these sacrifices look forward to Christ, the Lord sees His beloved Son, with whom He is well-pleased, and especially in the laying down of His life for the sheep (cf. John 10:14-17).

And so, God responds to the display of Christ by promising to do continual good to those wicked people. And He does this within Himself—not so much with the godly directly, but rather with Christ and all who are in Him.

What you and I must not miss is that there is a sign to us of this covenant between God and Christ in addition to the rainbow that He will appoint for the covenant between God and Noah in the next chapter. Seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night. These seasons and changes are indicators that what God has committed Himself to do in Christ shall surely come to pass. As surely as the seasons continue, so also will God save everyone who believes in Jesus Christ!
What is your favorite season? Why does it keeps coming? How can God NOT punish you?
Suggested Songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

Friday, April 12, 2019

2019.04.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 11:45-57

Questions for Littles: What group does John 11:45 tell us about? To whom had they come? What had they seen? In Whom did many of them believe? What did some of them do (John 11:46)? What did the chief priests and Pharisees do (John 11:47)? What did they admit? What were they worried that “everyone” might do (John 11:48a)? What were they worried that the Romans might do (verse 48b)? Who spoke up in John 11:49? What was his office? What did he suggest should happen to keep the nation from perishing (John 11:50)? How does John 11:51 say that he ended up saying such a thing? What does John 11:52 explain about for whom Jesus would die? What did the council plot from that day (John 11:53)? How did Jesus respond at this time (John 11:54)? What was near in John 11:55? What did many from the country go up to Jerusalem to do? Whom did they seek (John 11:56)? Who else sought Him (John 11:57)? For what reasons?
In the Gospel reading this week, we see two different kinds of responses to Christ.

The one thing that this passage screams is that, when confronted with who Christ shows Himself to be, neutrality is not a possible response. It cannot be denied that He “works many signs.” What’s ironic is that the Council is more concerned with the wrath of Rome than they are with the wrath of God.

Oh, how we need to know God’s wrath against ourselves! The composite picture throughout the gospels was that the chief priests and Pharisees thought themselves to be doing pretty well. As a result, they seem not to fear the wrath of God at all.

But the crowds who were coming for Passover sure seemed to. And well they ought to have! For the Passover was a reminder that the wrath of God applies equally to all. That there is no one who is safe in any other way than by the blood of the Lamb.

And this Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ, came to die for many of the nation of the Jews, and many “children of God who were scattered abroad.” Whether in the nation or scattered abroad, the only ones who would be saved are those who are covered in the blood of the Lamb.

If the council had only realized that they were in much greater danger than the danger of what the Romans might do to them! If they had only paid attention to the sign of Passover! If they had only paid attention to Jesus’s own signs about Who He is!
What did Jesus show about Himself by raising Lazarus? What did the Passover show about us? What do we need from Jesus if we are going to be safe from God’s wrath?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH354 “Not All the Blood of Beasts”

Thursday, April 11, 2019

2019.04.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 7:2-12

Questions for Littles: What does the apostle ask the Corinthians to do in 2 Corinthians 7:2? What three things have the apostolic ministers not done? How does he express his affection to them in 2 Corinthians 7:3? What four things, in 2 Corinthians 7:4, are increased by his love for them? What troubles had they had in Macedonia (2 Corinthians 7:5)? What comforted them (2 Corinthians 7:6)? What does 2 Corinthians 7:7 present as the cause for this comfort? What did the apostle both feel and not feel about having made them sorry in 2 Corinthians 7:8? Over what, specifically, did he rejoice in 2 Corinthians 7:9? What had their sorrow led to? What does a repentant response to sorrow show that God is doing in them (2 Corinthians 7:10a)? What does the sorrow of the world (the sorrow that does not produce repentance) produce instead (verse 10b)? What six things does 2 Corinthians 7:11 highlight as characteristics of their repentance? What does the apostle say he was not aiming at in this case of church discipline (2 Corinthians 7:12)? What does he say that he was aiming at?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we learn something about real love and real repentance.

Real love feels like it dies with your death and lives with your life (2 Corinthians 7:3). Real love speaks boldly to you when you need to hear it (2 Corinthians 7:4a). Real love is full of joy at another’s good (verse 4b). Real love has comfort not in its own circumstances, but in the circumstances of the one it loves (verse 4c). Real love has joy—even if itself is in trouble—at the good that comes to the one it loves (verse 4d).

Real love is willing to make you sorry—and rejoices if it sees a change (2 Corinthians 7:8-9). Real love doesn’t aim so much at adjudicating particular situations (2 Corinthians 7:12a) as it does at seeing God use it to care for you and save you (verse 12b, 2 Corinthians 7:10).

But one of the things at which real love aims at is real repentance. Repentance is more than just saying sorry. Repentance is even more than just truly feeling sorry. The world truly feels sorry—in a way that is leading to their death! 2 Corinthians 7:11 describes those aspects of the Corinthian repentance, reported by Titus, that confirmed to the apostle that this was real repentance, that demonstrated godly sorrow, as evidence that God was indeed saving them.

Real repentance produces diligence. It works hard at doing something differently. Real repentance desires a clean conscience—it wants to be investigated, examined, and cleared that the offense is no longer there. Real repentance is indignant. It doesn’t pooh-pooh the sin, but admits it and owns it and hates it. Real repentance fears; it recognizes not only that we must be indignant with our sin, but that this is especially because of God’s white-hot holiness and wrath against sin. Real repentance has vehement desire. It passionately wants to reverse course, to be holy, to enjoy the fruit of this holiness. Real repentance is full of zeal. It expresses this desire in a bubbling over of attitude and action. Real repentance vindicates the one that confronted it—it says, “you had good reason to confront me.” All of these things characterized the Corinthian repentance, and this is why the loving apostle was so comforted by the news that Titus brought him!
Whom do you really love? Using the characteristics that we see in this passage, explain how you know that you really love them. Who really loves you? Of what sin have you been confronted? How will you specifically show the aspects of real repentance that we see in this passage?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH130A “Lord, from the Depths to You I Cry!”

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

2019.04.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 23

Read Joshua 23
Questions for Littles: How much time has passed in Joshua 23:1? What is Joshua’s condition at this point? For whom does he call in Joshua 23:2? What does he say about himself? What does he say that they have seen (Joshua 23:3)? Whom does he say has fought for them? What has Joshua already done for them in Joshua 23:4? What does he remind them, in Joshua 23:5, that needs to be done still? Whom does he say will do it? What must the Israelites do (Joshua 23:6)? What must they not do (Joshua 23:7)? With what phrase does Joshua 23:8 summarize the keeping of God’s commandments? What has the Lord done so far (Joshua 23:9)? What can one man do, if the Lord fights for him (Joshua 23:10)? Again, what must the Israelites do (Joshua 23:11)? What would be the opposite of loving the Lord (Joshua 23:12)? And what will happen if they mix with the world (Joshua 23:13)? What has not failed in Joshua 23:14? What kind of word will also not fail, according to Joshua 23:15? What will happen to Israel if they break the covenant (Joshua 23:16)? 
In this week’s Old Testament reading, we see the great faithfulness of God to His Word. He has brought Israel into the promised land. He has given them victory over their enemies. He has driven out before them great and strong nations. He has divided to them by lot the nations that remain.

The main point of the passage is clear. Not one word has fallen. Twice in Joshua 23:14. Not one word has failed!

For us, this certainty is underlined even more. For, Israel did not love Yahweh their God (Joshua 23:11) and cling to Him (Joshua 23:8). They were instead happy to have the same priorities as the world, and to intermarry with them—choosing rather to fit in with the nations around them, they chose that friendship of the world which the Scripture tells us is enmity with God (cf. James 4:3-4). And what happened? Exactly what the Lord’s prophet said would happen. The anger of Yahweh burned against them, and they perished quickly from the good land which God gave them. No falling words.

Now, the Lord has given us infallible words too. He has told us that the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His might angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, punishing them with everlasting destruction that comes from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power (2 Thess 1:7-9). Not one of these words will fail.

But the Lord has also told us that Christ came down from above for sinners, and that having died for their sins, He rose again from the dead—that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in Your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. That through this faith comes righteousness, and when your mouth’s statements are the expression of such heart belief, that this is also a word that cannot fail. Whoever thus believes on Him will not be put to shame. Whoever thus calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:6-13. These words, too, cannot fail. Hallelujah!

How sure do you know God’s words to be? Which of His never-failing words is true about you?

Suggested songs: ARP29 “You Sons of the Gods” or TPH265 “In Christ Alone”

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

2019.04.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 149

Read Psalm 149
Questions for Littles: Whom shall we praise (Psalm 149:1)? What shall we sing? Where? In whom is Israel to rejoice (Psalm 149:2)? In whom must the children of Zion be joyful? What aspects of the worship led by Levitical priests are named in Psalm 149:3? In whom does the Lord take pleasure (Psalm 149:4)? With what does He beautify the humble (verse 4)? In what should saints be joyful (Psalm 149:5)? What should they do on their beds? What should be in their mouths (Psalm 149:6)? And what should be in their hands? For what purpose (Psalm 149:7-9a)? Which of the Lord’s saints have this honor? 
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin all came from Psalm 149. This is a Psalm about corporate worship—the praise of the Lord in the assembly of the saints. Yes, it’s a praise that continues to resound in their hearts and mouths even when they are at home on their beds (Psalm 149:5). But it is something that distinctly belongs to the assembly (Psalm 149:1), as evidenced by the reference to the specific Levite-led activities of Psalm 149:3.

We, of course, are no longer led by Levites in a temple on earth, but we ourselves are the temple, and we are led by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the Great High Priest over the congregation in glory!

Therefore, the joy of the song is not diminished, but rather increased—as the saints are joyful in glory. In particular, we now know how it can even be that Yahweh Himself takes pleasure in us in Psalm 149:4 (!!). It is because we come to Him through His beloved Son, in Whom He is well pleased. He delights in His Son, and He delights in us who are in His Son!

But not only do we have the privilege of a great reception on High, week by week in this life. We also have the privilege of a great power on earth.

Which of the Lord’s saints wield this great sword to which Psalm 149:6-9 refer? All His saints. Psalm 149:9 says, “This honor have ALL His saints.” Now, we know that not all His saints carry physical swords by which they subjugate rulers. But, just as our worship must come from God and not be merely the worship of men, so also our weapons are the weapons of God.

As we believe the Scripture together, and confess it in worship, and admonish one another with it, and teach it to our children, we are participating in the subjugation of all the nations, which shall surely be accomplished by God’s mighty Word. And we have the privilege, as we depart worship each week, of carrying His high praise in our mouths, and His sword in our hands. Hallelujah!
Why would the Lord delight in you? Have you delighted in Christ? Does His praise continue with you as you leave worship? What sword do you take with you? How?
Suggested songs: ARP206 “Triumphant Joy in God” or TPH166 “You Who His Temple Throng”

Monday, April 8, 2019

2019.04.08 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 this week’s sermon, we saw the Lord being Noah’s safety and provision, and the Lord communicating to Noah that He is his safety and provision.

It is interesting to look at the actions that Noah takes and the dates of those actions. He shows an uncertainty about what he will find when he leaves the ark. Will he be safe? Will he be provided for? We know by the Word of God what he could only have hoped was the case when the wind passed over the earth: the Lord remembered Noah.

The Lord, of course, doesn’t forget. We do. And when we do, we realize something about someone. And we stir up our affection toward them. And we acknowledge our relationship with them and our commitments to them. So, Genesis 8:1 is telling us that the Lord is affirming and responding to His relationship with Noah. He will be Noah’s safety and provision.

Noah himself imitates the Lord in his interaction with the dove in Genesis 8:9. It is a tender image. This great, old man—reaching out his hand to bring not just back into the ark but to himself. Like Adam before him in the garden, where did Noah learn such interaction? From God Himself. “I will be your savior and provider.”

And this is, most of all, what Noah realizes in that wonderful little Genesis 8:15. When the Lord speaks to Noah, Noah realizes that he still has relationship with God—that he still has favor, that he still has grace.

And isn’t the same true for you, dear Christian? When you open your Bible to Genesis 8, and hear Genesis 8 preached, hasn’t the Lord specifically said that this Word is breathed out by Him to you and for you? And doesn’t He hold Himself out to you in Christ, saying, “I am your Shield and very great Reward”? May His Spirit plant this truth deeply in our hearts!
How has the Lord reached out to bring you home? How does He speak to you?
Suggested Songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH257 “Children of the Heavenly Father”