Current series on "How God Wants to Be Worshiped":


Current series in Galatians:

Saturday, January 18, 2020

2020.01.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Leviticus 9:18-10:7

Questions from the Scripture text: What was being done at the end of the eighth day of the ordination procedure for Aaron and his sons (Leviticus 9:18-21)? What did Aaron do, having offered the climactic offerings of each type (Leviticus 9:22)? What did Moses and Aaron do, when they came out of the tabernacle (Leviticus 9:23)? And what did Yahweh do (Leviticus 9:23-24)? And how did the people respond? Which two newly ordained Aaronic priests does Leviticus 10:1 mention? What do they take and what do they offer? How does the end of verse 1 explain what was “profane” (literally “strange” or “foreign”) about the fire? From where does the fire in Leviticus 10:2 come? What does it do? What do they do? Who immediately speaks in Leviticus 10:3? What two groups of people does He mention? What must they do (e.g., what had Nadab and Abihu not done)? How does Aaron respond (or not)? Whom does Moses call in Leviticus 10:4? To do what? By what do they carry out the bodies (Leviticus 10:5)? What does Moses tell the father and brothers of the deceased not to do (Leviticus 10:6)? Who is to mourn what instead? What did their being “on duty” in the first full day of their ordained service mean they mustn’t do (Leviticus 10:7)? 
In tomorrow’s sermon text, we are confronted with the holiness of God in a way that is shocking to our sinful sensibilities. To too many of us, and far too often, it seems a small, primarily emotional or perhaps intellectual activity to draw near to God. We don’t realize how very much the holiness and glory of God ought to incinerate us in this nearness. And it is for this reason that we underappreciate what Christ has done to gain for us this nearness.

If anyone should have understood the costliness of one’s safety in drawing near to God, it should have been Nadab and Abihu. From the beginning of chapter 8 up until our particular text, they have been subjected to an eight day ordination ritual with dozens of sacrifices, the smell of burning animal flesh and burning organs, and the ferric scent and crimson-then-brown sight of blood poured out to consecrate the altar. Their righthand ears, righthand thumbs, and righthand big toes were all now deeply stained—monuments to the death and hell that ought to await any sinner in the presence of God, but also that God had provided a way into His presence by atonement. They had even been warned that sticking exactly to God’s plan for worship was “so that you may not die” (Leviticus 8:35).

If ever anyone had been sufficiently called, sufficiently consecrated, sufficiently attired, etc., to bring their creativity to the worship act, it would have been these two. The blessing of God had just been declared not once but twice, and God’s acceptance of the sacrifices had been demonstrated both by a display of His glory and by fire that came from the mercy seat to consume what was on the altar.

But that’s just it. By worshiping in any way at all that God has not commanded, the worshiper comes in a way that has not been bought by Jesus and is not being mediated by Jesus. There is no room for creativity in choosing the actions of worship. When the right men, in the right garments, at the right place, using the right fire pans, and the right incense substituted man-made fire for the God-provided fire, fire came out from Yahweh and consumed them.

Fire came out from Yahweh—meaning from the mercy seat. Even the mercy of God refused to save them. The only way to draw near to God in a way that regards Him as holy is to come through Christ. The only way to gather as the people of God in a way that glorifies Him is to gather through Christ. And it is always God’s commanded actions—and never man’s invented actions—that God accepts as coming through Christ.

But here is the astonishing glory and goodness of the gospel—Christ IS our mercy seat, and there IS mercy for us. This holy God who is a consuming fire has made a way for us to draw near to Him not only in safety, but in blessing and joy!
What habits, before and during corporate worship on the Lord’s Day, help you treat God as holy and glorious in the service? From where must all of our worship actions in corporate worship come? Through Whom are we coming, when we come with God’s commanded worship?
Suggested songs: ARP24 “The Earth and the Riches” or TPH274 “Jesus, My Great High Priest”

Friday, January 17, 2020

2020.01.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 1:57-80

Questions from the Scripture text: What time came in Luke 1:57? How did her neighbors and family respond (Luke 1:58)? What day does Luke 1:59 describe, and what was happening? What were they going to call him? What did Elizabeth call him instead (Luke 1:60)? Why was this strange to the guests (Luke 1:61)? Whom did they expect to overrule (Luke 1:62)? What name did he choose (Luke 1:63)? What happened to him at that point (Luke 1:64)? What was the response of not just the guests but the surrounding region (Luke 1:65-66)? What happens to Zacharias to shape his words for his first speech since having his voice restored (Luke 1:67)? For what event is Zacharias praising God (Luke 1:68-71)? What does he say that God is fulfilling (Luke 1:72-73)? What is God’s purpose in this salvation (Luke 1:74-75)? What part will Zacharias’s child have (Luke 1:76)? What would the Lord do, for Whom John would prepare the way, for His people (Luke 1:77-79)? What did God do for child John—and where (Luke 1:80)? 
We tend to be amazed by unusual things. It’s the spectacular that impresses us. So, baby John’s family and neighbors were abuzz with the news of his strange name and his dad’s muteness and prophecy.

That actual prophecy, though, focuses upon Someone Else altogether. Baby John’s significance is as a go-before. It’s a great honor to be His herald, to give knowledge of what He does. But He is the One who does it. Jesus is the great one, and someone who responds to John rightly will be impressed rather little with John and rather much with the One whom John proclaims.

John is still teaching this some 30 years later, when his disciples wish people would be more impressed with him, and he is teaching all of us, “[Christ] must increase, and [we] must decrease” (John 3:22-36).

But it is Jesus who saves us from those great enemies who keep us from “serving Him boldly in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life” (Luke 1:74-75). Jesus atones for our sin, negates death and Hell’s claim upon us, and turns all the attacks of the devil upon themselves.
It is Jesus who visits us, in the tender mercy of God, and drives away our darkness and death by His light and life (Luke 1:78-79).

We too must desire that it would be Jesus who gets all the glory of our life. And, especially when we desire for others to be guided into the way of peace, it must be Jesus that we present and Jesus that we praise. Yes, what He has done for us or how He has used us are interesting and notable mercies. But the good news is not news about us. It’s news about Jesus!
What spiritual people/circumstances most easily catch your attention? How can you redirect this attention back to Jesus Himself and what He has done? Whom have you been telling about Christianity? How much has that telling focused upon Jesus?
Suggested songs: ARP45A “My Heart Is Greatly Stirred” or TPH438 “I Love to Tell the Story”

Thursday, January 16, 2020

An audio recording of a sample family worship lesson in today's Hopewell @Home Passage. The apostle gives us a list of the works of the flesh, so that we may rightly recognize whether we are battling with the Spirit or against Him. If we find that we are consistently battling against Him, we can be sure that we are not inheriting the kingdom.

2020.01.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 5:19-21

Questions from the Scripture text: Which works are evident (Galatians 5:19)? What sixteen specific works do Galatians 5:19-21 mention? How does Galatians 5:21 end the list? When does the apostle say that he is telling the church? Before what—of what event is he speaking? Is this the first time that he tells them? About whom is he especially speaking at the end of verse 21? What will they not do? 
In the previous passage, we heard about a great battle between the flesh (our remaining sin from our original nature in the first Adam) and the Spirit—and how we are to be led by the Spirit into battle against the flesh. Of course, that immediately presents the question of how we can tell which side we happen to be fighting on. This week’s passage gives us a list of things to be fighting against. Next week’s passage gives us a list of characteristics to expect to grow as we trust in the Spirit for His work.

One important thing to note is that there are some things in this list that people excuse by saying that’s their “personality.” That’s not what this Scripture calls them. The Scripture calls them “works of the flesh”—expressions of that guilty, wicked nature with which we came into this world.

Galatians 5:19 targets especially the seventh commandment. These are sins where one indulges earthly desires over against the self-control and purity to which we are called. A couple of the terms especially highlight purity in our thought life and a regard for helping others remain pure in their thought life.

Galatians 5:20 targets especially religious sins—sins against the first table of the law, the first four commandments. Any compromising of the holiness or truth of God; promotion of self or of personal preferences or ideas about God; or, manmade ways of increasing spiritual vitality (“sorcery” in the NKJV, but the Greek word from which we get pharmaceutics, and implying concoctions of man to achieve health or power)—things that result in harm to the purity of the church, and often by this harming the peace of the church.

Of course, there is overlap between harming the church generally and harming others individually, and Galatians 5:21 brings us full-circle: highlighting sins that immediately damage ourselves or others, physically or spiritually.

It is important to note that, when it says "and the like," this Scripture invites us to other Scriptures that give us such lists (Romans 1:26-31, 2 Timothy 3:2-4, etc.), so that we can take an honest catalog of what behaviors we are nursing that are “harboring the enemy” in our spiritual battle.

It helps us rather little to go through such a list and focus upon those sins that are not issues for us. If we want more help, we need to focus especially upon those sins that are battles for us right now, and with the Scripture as an exposing mirror (Psalm 119:105, James 1:21-27, Hebrews 4:11-13), consider which side of the battle we have been fighting for.

Finally, there is a very serious warning. If those who are sons of God are led by the Spirit of God, and those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God, then our eternal destiny may be discerned by assessing which side of the battle we are on.

Because Jesus makes a true difference in every individual whom He redeems, this Scripture can say with 100% truthfulness and seriousness: “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

God redeem us, and adopt us, and send forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, that we may be engaged on the right side of this battle!
Against which sins in this list have you been doing battle? Which, if any, have you been coddling?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH51C “God, Be Merciful to Me”

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

An audio recording of a sample family worship lesson in today's Hopewell @Home Passage. There are two potential redeemers for Naomi in Ruth 4:1-12--one admirable and one less so. But the great Redeemer that this Scripture holds out to us is the One who was orchestrating His coming into the world to redeem us by His blood. He is still orchestrating all things, for His redeemed, to apply to us what He has done for us.

2020.01.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ruth 4:1-12

Questions from the Scripture text: Where did Boaz go (Ruth 4:1)? Who came by? Whom did Boaz ask to sit down (Ruth 4:1-2)? What did he say that Naomi had done (Ruth 4:3)? What did he invite the closer redeemer to do in Ruth 4:4? How did the closer relative answer? What piece of information did Boaz add in Ruth 4:5? Now, what was the closer relative’s response (Ruth 4:6)? What sign might one give that he was giving up his right to something (Ruth 4:7)? What does he do in Ruth 4:8? What does Boaz say to the elders in Ruth 4:9-10? How do the elders respond in Ruth 4:11? What blessing do they pronounce in Ruth 4:11-12?
In this passage, there are two prospective redeemers. One of them is unwilling that his own inheritance would be thinned out by sharing, and unwilling to take as wife a widow of undesirable lineage. The other is eager that his brother’s inheritance would not be lost to him, and more than willing to marry the virtuous woman—even if she is a widow, and even if she is a Moabite.

There are happy parallels between Boaz and Christ—Who has taken a bride of ultimate unworthiness, that we might be joint inheritors with Him!

Perhaps the more central point of this passage is that the Lord is sovereignly orchestrating what occurs here, precisely with a view toward the coming of the Lord Jesus into the world. A great and godly man like Boaz is inexplicably unmarried to this point. The precise fellow with whom Boaz needed to negotiate just happens to come through the gate (Ruth 4:1). God’s good law about perpetuating the name of the dead is the hinge upon which the negotiation swings (Ruth 4:5-6). And the line of Judah, through Perez, is specifically on the mind of the elders, as they pronounce blessing upon Boaz (Ruth 4:12).

The same Lord who ruled and overruled, in every providence, in order to bring Christ into the world for us still rules and overrules. If you are a believer in Christ, He now rules and overrules in every providence to apply Christ to you, and to obtain for you what Christ has earned!
What are some difficult circumstances that you are going through right now, or that you anticipate going through soon? What is Christ doing in those circumstances? Why is He?
Suggested Songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH256 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

An audio recording of a sample family worship lesson in today's Hopewell @Home Passage. At the outset of the NT book on the holy assembly of the Lord's Day, the first thing the apostle does is set before us the glory of Christ, who Himself is the glory of that worship.

2020.01.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Revelation 7:9-15

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom did John see in Revelation 7:9? In what were they clothed? What were they crying out in Revelation 7:10? With what kind of voice? Who respond to this in Revelation 7:11? What do they do? What do they say in Revelation 7:12? Who asks John a question in Revelation 7:13? How does John answer in Revelation 7:14? Whom does the elder say they are? In what have they washed their robes? Where are they (Revelation 7:15)? What do they do? When? What does “He who sits on the throne” do?
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Song of Adoration come from Revelation 7:9-15 in order to sing God’s thoughts after Him with Ye Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim.

When Jesus was talking to the woman at the well about the glorious worship that He was bringing into effect, He affirmed that the Jews worshiped what they knew, “because salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). Now, we see the innumerable multitude of those clothed in white (Revelation 7:9)—the kind of white that can only be bleached in by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:13-14), saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Our Lord Himself, and His blood, is that salvation that came from the Jews, and this is the worship to which the Old Testament shadows looked forward. The heavens are resounding with this—what is the innumerable multitude doing? Crying out with a loud voice! The scene here is deafening to mortal ears!! “SALVATION IS OF OUR GOD WHO SITS ON THE THRONE, AND OF THE LAMB!!”

In fact, this is so much the subject of heaven’s worship that ALL the angels and their elders (we can see by verses 13-14 that these are angel elders) fall on their faces in response to the salvation-praise of the redeemed!

And what has our salvation gained for us? The privilege of serving Him day and night in His glorious presence—AND the privilege of His making His dwelling place among them. When we sing, Ye Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim, we will be reveling in the fact that this is what Christ has made us by His precious blood!
What is the first and great service that Christ’s servants render unto Him? What has Christ done in order to qualify us for this service? Who else praises Him for it?
Suggested songs: ARP51B “From My Sins, O Hide Your Face” or TPH284 “Ye Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim”

Monday, January 13, 2020

2020.01.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 4:16-26

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does Jesus tell the woman to bring (John 4:16)? Why isn’t she able to do so (John 4:17)? How many husbands has she had (John 4:18)? Is the man she is living with now even her husband? What does the woman say to change the subject (John 4:19)? To what subject does she change (John 4:20)? What question does she ask? Which option does Jesus choose, from her options for a worship place (John 4:21)? But whom does Jesus say had it right (John 4:22)? Now what is the place of worshiping the Father (John 4:23)? How can we get there (John 4:24)? Whom does the woman say she is waiting for, to straighten her out on this issue (John 4:25)? What does Jesus say about Himself in John 4:26?
In John 4:26, Jesus declares to the woman with whom He has been speaking that He is the “I AM” of the burning bush that first gave her honored mountain its precious place in the history of worship. How she must have marveled! Perhaps, she understood a little at the time, but certainly she grew in her understanding over time: this Man who had engaged her, when no one else would, was doing so because He and His Father are one, and He was seeking her to be a worshiper—at the cost of His own atoning death!

We, too, must grow in our appreciation for what a glorious thing the New Testament worship assembly is! The Father seeks worshipers. And He has sent His Son into the world to redeem them, that they might be sanctified and brought all the way home. This is why the worship assembly, Lord’s Day by Lord’s Day, is such a wonderful reminder of our redemption.

We could not “worship in spirit and truth” except by His blood, sanctifying us and making the way for us to draw near to our glorious God! “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me” (Psalm 22:1) culminates in “I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You” (Psalm 22:22; cf. Hebrews 2:10-13). So, when we come to the worship service, our bodies can take us to the assembly; but, because of Christ’s blood, by faith we may enter heaven itself, where Jesus Spiritually and truly leads our worship. And, when we do so, it announces to us just how glorious it is that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit has sought us to be worshipers!
Where does corporate worship spiritually and truly take place? What was necessary to get you there? What should we remember whenever we come to public worship?
Suggested Songs: ARP22C “I’ll Praise You in the Gathering” or TPH277 “Before the Throne of God Above”