Saturday, May 4, 2019

2019.05.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Read Genesis 9:8-17

Questions for Littles: Who spoke to Noah (Read Genesis 9:8)? Who was with Noah? What is established in Genesis 9:9? Who establishes the covenant? Whose covenant is it? With what two groups is it established in verse 9? Who else benefits from the covenant (Genesis 9:10)? What covenantal benefit does the Lord promise here (Genesis 9:11)? In Genesis 9:12, what does God say He is going to give to show His covenant? What is that sign that He uses to show the covenant (Genesis 9:13)? Who puts it there? Whose bow is it? Who brings clouds over the earth (Genesis 9:14)? What happens every single time there is a cloud? How does God respond to the bow (Genesis 9:15)? What is in the cloud (Genesis 9:16)? What does God do to the bow? How does God respond to the bow? To whom, specifically, does God now speak in Genesis 9:17? What, specifically, does God point out in this verse?
In our sermon passage for tomorrow, we get introduced to the idea of a covenant and a covenant sign. God is going to bind Himself to Noah (and his sons with him), in an agreement in which each commits himself to the other.

God has already given a number of commands, repeating the creation mandate as we saw before: fill the earth with people who hate their sin, hope in Christ’s sacrifice, enjoy Christ as the display of God’s glory, and imitate Christ (by Christ’s power) as a display of Christ’s glory.

Now, in Genesis 9:8-17, Noah understands that these are covenant-requirements. And they’re not optional. It’s not just Noah’s sons who are brought into this agreement without their consent, just because they are with him. Noah himself is brought into this covenant without his consent.

What does the Lord commit Himself to do? To not destroy the whole earth. That might not sound like a big deal, but we have already learned in Genesis 8:20-22, that—because of man’s totally sinful nature—it literally costs the life and death of Jesus Christ to keep this promise. Only because of the completeness of His Son’s sacrifice and obedience to come, as one of us, can God keep that promise.

And God puts a display of that in the sky. The word almost always means “bow” and a few times, it means “archer.” This was a weapon of lethal power, and the bow is bent such that the string is pulled back toward the earth and aimed at God Himself. Until the earth itself comes under the fire of His wrath, the Lord will preserve it for the sake of His own future coming to bear His own wrath. Sinners will be saved from God, by God, for God.

God doesn’t need a bow in the clouds. But He chooses it as a sign that He gives, and to which He will respond, so that it will be a great help to Noah’s faith. The rainbow is a help to faith. Without faith, a rainbow is just evidence that in the providence of God, different wavelengths of light bend different amounts as they refract through water. But with faith in God’s words about God’s covenant of grace, a rainbow is a display that God is keeping His commitment to do everlasting good to all sinners who belong to Jesus Christ--the one who was pierced for us.
What signs has God given us of His commitment to forgive us and give us life? What had to be done for our forgiveness? From what flood does this protect us? What kind of life do we get? For the signs to work this way for us, what must we have in Whom?
Suggested Songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken to My Lord” or TPH270 “At the Name of”

Friday, May 3, 2019

2019.05.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Read John 12:17-23

Questions for Littles: Who bore witness to Christ in John 12:17? What did this cause people to do in John 12:18? Who are speaking in John 12:19? To whom? What do they say about themselves? Whom do they say have gone after Christ? About whom does John 12:20 tell us? What had they come to the feast to do? To whom did they come in John 12:21? What did they ask him? Whom did Philip tell (John 12:22)? Whom did the two of them tell together? Who answered in John 12:23? What did He say had come?
Isn’t it interesting how quickly things can change? Our Lord knew this—especially of His own situation. Undoubtedly, He had seen this in the Psalms and learned it from Job and other parts of Scripture. Most of all, He knew that He had come to die.  He has just finished saying that Mary was anointing Him for His burial.

So, while the crowds swelled in number, and buzzed with the story of his raising Lazarus from the dead; and, while even Greeks now were wanting to see Him; and, while the Pharisees seemed to think they were losing any chance of putting Him to death; Jesus Himself is still focused upon His death.

It must have been shocking to Philip and Andrew. I know that it would have been to me. Finally, things seem to be looking up, and Jesus insists that He is about to die.

But the words with which He insists upon it are interesting, aren’t they? “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.” There are other places where something like this is said using the term “lifted up.” That makes sense to talk about His death—lifted up on the cross.

But the term here is doxazo, related to our word, “doxology.” It means “to make or honor as gloriously great.” The buzzing of the crowds, and amazement at Him and popularity were nothing.

What would be truly glorious is when He is raised up on the cross, between Heaven and Earth, and displayed as the Son of God—equal in His sacrifice to all of the sins of all of His people against the glory of God.

What would be truly glorious is when He rose again from the dead, ascended into Heaven, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, and poured out His Holy Spirit upon His people. What would be truly glorious is when He began to draw all peoples to Himself.

The glory of Jesus is not a glory of what He can do for you in this life or how popular He can be. The glory of Jesus is the glory of God Himself who successfully redeems His people from the eternal Hell that they deserve, and into the eternal blessedness that belongs to Him.
How have you honored Jesus as God Himself? How have you recognized and responded to His glorious death, resurrection, ascension, session, and soon return?
Suggested songs: ARP24 “The Earth and the Riches” or TPH325 “All Glory, Laud, and Honor”

Thursday, May 2, 2019

2019.05.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 8:16-24

Questions for Littles: Who earnestly cares for the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 8:16)? Who put this care into his heart? Who commanded him to go to them (2 Corinthians 8:17)? In what is the other brother’s praise, from 2 Corinthians 8:18, famous? Who chose him to travel with the gift (2 Corinthians 8:19)? Who is glorified by this? What are they trying to avoid (2 Corinthians 8:20)? Before whom does the apostle hope that the gift will be honorable (2 Corinthians 8:21)? What has the brother mentioned in 2 Corinthians 8:22 demonstrated about himself in many things? What recommendation does the apostle give about Titus (2 Corinthians 8:23)? What does he call the other brothers in verse 23? What does he call the churches? Whom else does he hope will be honorable before the Lord and men, and show forth the glory of Christ (2 Corinthians 8:24)? 
This passage has not one, but two unidentified characters. First, in 2 Corinthians 8:18, there is the one whose “praise is in the gospel, throughout all the churches.” Many (perhaps most) think that this is Luke. He has traveled with Paul, and is now of course famous for having written his gospel. In fact, Paul quotes Luke’s gospel as Scripture in 1 Timothy 5:18.

And we don’t know who the man in 2 Corinthians 8:22 is. Some think that this is another way of talking about Titus, but then 2 Corinthians 8:23 refers to at least two more brothers in addition to Titus. Commentators think perhaps Timothy or Silas.

But, I think that the point is actually the fact that we don’t know. It doesn’t matter. Christ produces faithful gospel preaching. Christ produces diligent service. And Christ gets the glory.

This is a good lesson for us. I think that sometimes we hope that others will see how much glory we are bringing to Jesus. But is this really bringing glory to Jesus? Can it really be for His glory, if what we are most hoping is that others will notice that it was we who did so? May God spare us. Better to remain nameless.

There is a lesson here for the Corinthians. Yes, the apostle is urging them to show that his recounting of Christ’s work in them is true. But, the focus is especially upon the recounting of the fact that it is Christ’s work.

This is also behind his desire to make sure that the money is handled in a blameless manner. Since the administration of the gift is to the glory of the Lord Himself, it is very important that it be honorable not only in the sight of the Lord but also in the sight of men. How dreadful it would be to be careless with the reputation of Christ, when it was in our power to guard it instead! How important it is in the public ministry of the church that all things be done blamelessly and above reproach!
What service are you part of in the church? Are you hoping that others will know that it is you? How are you being careful to be blameless in it? Whom do you praise for others’ service?
Suggested songs: ARP112 “O Praise the Lord” or TPH538 “Take My Life, and Let It Be”

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

2019.05.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 24:29-33

Questions for Littles: What title is Joshua given in Joshua 24:29? What happened to him? How old was he? Within the border of what place did they bury him (Joshua 24:30)? What did Israel do for all of the days of Joshua (Joshua 24:31)? For whom else’s days did Israel do this? What had all of these people known? Whose bones does Joshua 24:32 talk about? From where had they brought them up? To where did they bring them? Who died in Joshua 24:33? Where was he buried?
The theme of the book of Joshua has been how not one of God’s good words to His people have fallen to the ground. Every single one of His promises has been kept. So, it might seem odd at first that the book closes with four funerals.

But these funerals each indicate the promises that have been kept. Joshua is buried in his inheritance. Joseph is buried in the inheritance of his children. Eleazar is buried in the his son Phinehas’s inheritance. Joshua and Eleazar had been born slaves in Egypt. Joseph had been sold as a slave into Egypt. Here they are, buried in the land of promise—not by families that are strangers in the land, as Abraham was unto his death, but by families that possess their land.

But there is more here. There is the spiritual salvation of a people who “served Yahweh all the days of Joshua, and the elders who outlived Joshua.” Think about what Israel was under Moses. Think about what Israel was under the Judges, and through just about the entire kingdom period. This could very well be the longest period of faithfulness among the people of God in the Old Testament! If not the longest, then it is certainly one of them. That is also a glorious display of the faithfulness and mercy of God. If I had to choose between inheritance and godliness, then may the Lord grant unto me godliness, for He is our inheritance!

So, there’s inheritance. And there’s godliness. Finally, there is also resurrection. Genesis and Joshua both close with a little bit of a fuss over Joseph’s bones. What’s the big deal? Why is he so insistent upon what happens with his used endoskeleton? Because he’s not done with it yet! Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph looked forward to a better country that they would not inherit without us (cf. Hebrews 11). The best is yet to come. Jesus is worthy of everlasting blessings, both heavenly and earthly, and we shall receive them all—together with Him Himself!
Of inheritance, godliness, and resurrection, to which do you most need to be reminded to look forward? How will you remind yourself? 
Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH446 “Be Thou My Vision”

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

190430FW Romans 11:33-12:33 - Gifts from God for His Church to His Glory

An example of a family worship lesson in Romans 11:33-12:13

2019.04.30 Hopewell @Home ▫Romans 11:33-12:13

Questions for Littles: Whose wisdom is deeply rich (Romans 11:33)? Whose knowledge is deeply rich? Whose judgments are unsearchable? Whose ways are past finding out? What has no one known (Romans 11:34)? What has no one become? What has no one done first (Romans 11:35) so that the Lord has never “repaid” anyone? Of whom are all things (Romans 11:36)? Through whom are all things? To whom are all things? What is to be given unto God forever? What are we to do by the mercies of God (Romans 12:1)? What are we to present to Him? As what kind of sacrifice? What kind of service is this? To what are we not to be conformed (Romans 12:2)? By what are we to be transformed? When we live this way, what do we prove about God’s will? Through what does Paul speak in Romans 12:3? What does he tell us not to do? How does he tell us to think? What has God dealt to each of us a measure of? What do we, as many members, form all together (Romans 12:4-5)? Of whom are we members (end of verse 5)? What gifts are listed in Romans 12:6-13? For each one, consider whether it is a gift that only some believers have, or whether it is a gift that all believers have (parents will have to do and explain this for you). 
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Confession of Sin came from Romans 11:33-12:13. In this passage, we go from purpose to particulars.

We go from overflowing expressions of worship (Romans 11:33-36) to an entire life of worship (Romans 12:1). Every day, we are to be offering our bodies unto God as living sacrifices.

We go from hearing about God’s deep wisdom and knowledge, and unsearchable judgments and ways (verses 11:33-36), to living according to God’s Word, and making our lives a testimony to how perfect His will is (Romans 12:2).

We go from the reminder that everything is gift from God and for God (Romans 11:36Romans 12:1Romans 12:3) to living that way (Romans 12:4-13). This is the ultimate meaning of spiritual “gifts”—not that we each have one or two or more special things that are gifts—but that these things (and everything else about us!) are gifts from God. But they’re not gifts to us—they are gifts to the church!

We see in the list that some of the “gifts” are unique to some believers. Prophecy, teaching, leading. These are things that relatively few are assigned to do. But other gifts in the list are things that all believers are commanded to do. Serving (“ministering” in NKJV), encouraging (“exhortation” in NKJV), generosity, showing mercy. These are things that every believer is commanded to do.

The point is this: rather than think highly of ourselves, let us realize that whatever role we have is a gift from God—even our faith was measured out to us by Him. And, since it is not from us but from Him, it does not belong to us but rather to Him. Every good thing that He puts in us or enables us to do is for His service, to His people, in His church. We are a gift from God to our brethren, and let us be sure not to withhold anything from one another that would genuinely do one another good!
What parts of church life do you not participate? How can you serve someone else in the church? How can you give someone else an opportunity to serve you?
Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH172 “Speak, O Lord”

Monday, April 29, 2019

2019.04.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 1:1-5

Questions for Littles: When was the Word already there (John 1:1)? With whom was the Word at that time? Who was He at that time? Who was with (literally, “toward,” or “facing”) God in the beginning (John 1:2)? What was made through Him (John 1:3)? What wasn’t made through Him? What was in Him (John 1:4)? What did men receive from this life? What does the light do now (John 1:5)? What has the former light of men become? What can’t the darkness grasp?  
You could be standing in the middle of a room with great treasures all around; but if it’s pitch-black dark in there, you’re just not going to see what’s there. This is something like the picture the apostle draws for us in the first five verses of this gospel.

Jesus Christ is the Great Treasure. Not merely “the greatest” treasure. But, in a real way, the only treasure. Anything else only has value—or even existence—because of Him.

In fact, even as God from all eternity, He is the Great Treasure, God Himself. In the beginning, the Word was already there. And He was facing God. In the ever-blessed, eternal fellowship of the Triune Godhead is this mutually reciprocated honor and glory and love and joy. This is mentioned first in the list in John 1:1, and then repeated for emphasis in John 1:2. He is the Great Treasure; from all eternity, He has been face to face with God as God.

It’s a word that means ‘toward’ and comes from the word for ‘face’. It can mean “with,” but there are better prepositions for that. This is relational. This is a reality that goes back before the beginning but breaks into time, not just in the incarnation itself, but even verbally at the baptism and the transfiguration, “This is My beloved Son with Whom I am well-pleased!”

John 1:4 could have been glorious for us. It takes us back to Genesis 2:7, when light first came into men’s eyes. Verse 4 tells us that Christ was there. As God, before He became flesh and dwelt among us, He formed Adam’s flesh from the ground and breathed into him. Of all the creatures that exist, man was given this great honor. In the Word was life, and this life was our light.

But something has gone wrong. We sinned in Adam. We fell in Adam. We died in Adam. Our minds are not light. They are darkness. In fact, the earth is full of darkness and needs to be re-lit. No man can do it. Jesus said that John the baptizer was the greatest of men, and even he was not that light (cf. John 1:8). Jesus alone is the light. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the Light of the world.

We need a little translation help at the end of John 1:5. NKJV says “did not ‘comprehend’,” but the word means something more like “master,” “control,” or even “overpower.” The Word who created the world and gave light to men has now entered the world to give light again—this time in a way that cannot be overcome.

Do you find that you, like literally every other person apart from grace, have an impossible time understanding the Lord, appreciating the Lord, and responding to the Lord? The Lord Himself, Jesus Christ, has come to be Your life for all of these things. He tells you to believe in Him as your only true light, and as your completely unstoppable light.
How do your thought life, regular habits, and actions show that you look to Jesus to be your light?
Suggested Songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken to My Lord” or TPH270 “At the Name of Jesus”