Saturday, March 30, 2019

2019.03.30 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 does 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 verse 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 verse 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 tomorrow’s sermon, there is much focus upon water level. On the one hand, the text makes it clearly, laughably impossible that this could have been a local flood. On the other hand, this takes us back to the first day of creation, where the earth was covered by the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God hovered over the waters.

Genesis 7:11 takes us back to day 2, that entire day that was spent on the raquiya (firmament), and now a window is being opened in it, and the protection and restraint is being removed.

Genesis 7:14, with its repeated mention of “after its kind,” takes us back to days 5 and 6 with not just the land animals but the birds perishing.

Genesis 7:22 takes us back to day 6 by the specific mention of nostrils, the only other mention of which in Genesis is Genesis 2:7, where God had breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life.

In a sense, the flood is being described here as the uncreation. But the original is not entirely lost. Noah, and those who were with him, were participants in this original creation. We have here the beginning of a theme that will last throughout Scripture—the theme of a “remnant.” The Lord repeatedly shows the greatness of His mercy and saving power to some by carrying out justice with others.
Who are perishing now? Who are being saved now? How are they being saved?
Suggested Songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

Friday, March 29, 2019

2019.03.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 11:17-32

Questions for Littles: Who “came” in John 11:17? What did He find? How long had Lazarus been in the tomb? What city was Bethany near (John 11:18)? How far? Who had joined the women around Mary and Martha (John 11:19)? For what purpose? What did Martha hear (John 11:20)? What did she do? Where was Mary? What does Martha say to Jesus in John 11:21? What does she say that she knows in John 11:22? What does this imply that God would do to Lazarus now, if Jesus asked? What does Jesus tell her will happen in John 11:23? When does Martha say that she knows that this will happen in John 11:24? What does Jesus say about Himself in John 11:25? What does He say about those who believe into Him? What additional information does Jesus provide in John 11:26? What question does He ask? What does she answer that she believes about Him in John 11:27?  Whom does she go get in John 11:28? How soon does Mary come (John 11:29)? Where was Jesus (John 11:30)? Who saw Mary get up to go to Jesus (John 11:31)? Where did they think she was going? To do what? What does Mary do, when she arrives at Jesus (John 11:32)? What does she say to Him?
In the Gospel reading this week, Martha “claims for herself the better thing”—going immediately to be with Jesus. She does not seem to remember even her also-grieving sister. She expresses excellent faith in Christ.

She knows that if He was there that Lazarus would not have died. On the one hand, this sounds unbelieving with regard to Jesus’s power, since He does not need to be nearby in order to save someone. But it is also very similar to what Jesus Himself implied in John 11:15. This is faith not only in His power but in His love.

Also, she knows that Lazarus will not stay dead even now. True, it sounds like she is missing the fact that Jesus is God. But that might actually be part of her confession in John 11:27 since he who is son of man is man, and He who is Son of God is God, and since she uses language that refers to Christ as existing before His life on earth. She grieves as someone who has true hope. At the very least, she knows that her brother will rise again at the last day.

More importantly, she knows that whatever Jesus says or promises about Himself is absolutely true. Her answer in verse 27 is not symmetrical to Jesus’s statement and question in John 11:25-26. That would have been for her to answer, “Yes, I believe that You are the resurrection. Yes, I believe that You are the life. Yes, I believe that You raise the dead. Yes, I believe that those who trust in You will never die.” Instead, her answer is that she believes that He is the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.

This is what the Lord Jesus is doing here: not just revealing specific powers or abilities or characteristics—but that His purpose is to reveal Himself, to display Himself to us that we might believe about Him all of the things that He ever says or shows us about Himself!
What are some things that Jesus has revealed about Himself in the Bible? Do you believe Him?
Suggested songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken to My Lord” or TPH280 “Wondrous King”

Thursday, March 28, 2019

2019.03.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 5:9-21

Questions for Littles: What does the apostle aim at, whether present in the body or absent from the body (2 Corinthians 5:9)? Where must we all appear (2 Corinthians 5:10)? What will we do there? According to what will we receive? What did the apostle know (2 Corinthians 5:11)? How did the apostle respond to that terror? To whom was he well known (i.e. as one who would receive good at the judgment seat)? Whom else did he trust could see that? According to 2 Corinthians 5:12, why was he reminding the Corinthians of that? What did others boast about? What did he want them to boast about? If others thought they were crazy, who would be glorified anyway (2 Corinthians 5:13a)? If others thought they were wise, whom would this help (2 Corinthians 5:13b)? What compels (constrains!) the apostle (2 Corinthians 5:14a)? Who died in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14b)? So, if the “us” that lived for ourselves is dead, for whom does the “new” us live (2 Corinthians 5:15)? What believers do we regard according to what they were before Christ’s resurrection (2 Corinthians 5:16)? Whom else do we not regard according to His pre-resurrection status? Where can we already see the new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17a)? How certain is it that this work will be finished (2 Corinthians 5:17b)? From Whom has all of this come (2 Corinthians 5:18a)? How has He accomplished this (2 Corinthians 5:18b, cf. 2 Corinthians 5:19ab)? And how is He applying this accomplished work (2 Corinthians 5:18c, cf. 2 Corinthians 5:19c)? What does the reconciliation-applying ministry of the Word sound like in 2 Corinthians 5:20? What did God do to Christ in order to reconcile us (2 Corinthians 5:21a)? What does God do to us in order to reconcile us (2 Corinthians 5:21b)?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we find the working out in the apostle’s life of his confidence that he will at last come to a full experience of Christ’s glory in the resurrection. He knows the terror of the Lord—what it would be like for him if he appeared at the judgment outside of Jesus and having done no works of faith at all. And this has a profound effect upon him in two different ways.

First, it means that he doesn’t belong to himself. The self that belonged to him died at the cross. The self that lives now belongs to Jesus and is constrained by the love of Jesus.

Second, if Jesus’s love is pressing him into all that he does, the knowledge of the judgment makes him all the more urgent with sinners—not so much desiring their favor as he is hoping that the Lord will give them spiritual life so that they will come to view his faith in Jesus as the display of a truly sound mind.

How does Jesus bring them to such life and faith? By the ministry of the Word of reconciliation. What does that ministry look like? Pleading. Imploring. Earnest speech declaring the wonderful reconciliation of God to sinners in Christ, and urging sinners therefore to trust in Christ, die with Christ, be forgiven in Christ, rise with Christ, live for Christ, and behold the glory of Christ!
What would it look like for your life to be compelled by the love of Christ?
Suggested songs: ARP51B “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH465 “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

2019.03.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 21

Read Joshua 21
Questions for Littles: Whose heads of fathers’ houses came near in Joshua 21:1? To whom did they come near? Where did they speak to them (Joshua 21:2)? Of what did they remind them that Yahweh had commanded? Who give the Levites cities and common lands in Joshua 21:3? From what did they give these cities and common lands? How does Joshua 21:4 tell us that these decisions are being made—what “came out” for the families of the Kohathites? Which Kohathites are mentioned first? Among which three tribes were they given cities and lands? Where else do Joshua 21:9-11 and Joshua 21:13-19 tell us that these same families received cities and lands? With whom did this make them near neighbors (Joshua 21:12)? Which families’ cities are named in Joshua 21:20-26? Which families’ names are named in Joshua 21:27-33? Which families’ cities are named in Joshua 21:34-40? What did these cities all come with (cf. Joshua 21:41-42)? How much of the promised land did Yahweh give to Israel (Joshua 21:43)? To whom had He sworn that this would happen? What had they now done at this point? What did Yahweh give them all around (Joshua 21:44a)? According to what had He done this? Who had been able to stand against them? Who had delivered their enemies into their hand? What had not failed (Joshua 21:45)?
In this week’s Old Testament reading, the Levites do NOT receive their inheritance. The book of Joshua has repeatedly reminded us that the inheritance of the Levites is the Lord Himself and His worship. When the Lord now takes care of all of their other needs He is displaying His own faithfulness to keep every Word and His own goodness to attend to all our needs. So, in a sense, what they are receiving is not the inheritance but the experience of how gloriously good that inheritance is—the Lord Himself!

In a sense, there is a reminder here that, according to God’s command, the Lord is the ultimate inheritance not only of the Levites but of all of His people. He spreads the Levites throughout the land, in all of the territories of His people, thereby spreading the display and experience of His own presence among His people.

He gives His people the privilege of giving of their own inheritance to provide for the Levites (and therefore the display and experience of God’s presence). He still does that for us today—giving us the privilege of participating in the earthly maintenance of those through whose ministries He especially draws near to us. As He does so, He keeps reminding us that the very good blessings that He gives us in this life are not our ultimate inheritance, but that He Himself is our ultimate inheritance!

Finally, the chapter concludes with what is the great theme of the entire book: not one word of Yahweh has fallen (Joshua 21:45, literally). The Word of Yahweh is so closely identified with Him that it is completely and perfectly reliable just as He is. Dear believer, you can count on it!
What difference does it make if God is Your greatest possession and delight? What are some words of promise that you have from God that will not fall?
Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly I Am with You” or TPH243 “How Firm a Foundation”

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

2019.03.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 26:1-9

Questions for Littles: When God makes a feast for all peoples in Zion (cf. Isaiah 25), where will a song be sung in Isaiah 26:1? What do the people sing that they have? What does God provide, that functions as “walls and bulwarks” for them? What do they ask to have opened in Isaiah 26:2? What kind of nation enters in? What does this nation keep? Whom does the Lord keep in perfect peace—on what is his mind focused, and in whom does he trust (Isaiah 26:3)? In whom does Isaiah 26:4 teach us to trust? What does versse 4 call Him (cf. footnote)? What does He do to those who are lifted up/proud (Isaiah 26:5)? How far down does He ultimately bring them in verse 5? What happens to them when they are brought down to the dust (Isaiah 26:6)? Who does this to them? What is the way of the just in Isaiah 26:7? What name does this verse call God? Whose path does He level out for them? Where have Yahweh’s people waited for Him (Isaiah 26:8)? What is the desire of their soul? At what times, particularly, has the prophet desired the Lord (Isaiah 26:9)? What will the inhabitants of the world learn when the judgments of Yahweh are displayed upon the earth? 
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin all came from Isaiah 26:1-9. This was so that when we sang together for the opening of Zion’s gates for us to enter and see the Lord, we would see that we are singing the thoughts of God after Him.

And it is He Himself who is the beauty of Zion. In this passage we see the strength of God. His salvation is the protection and strength of the city (Isaiah 26:1), and He Himself is everlasting strength (Isaiah 26:4).

In this passage, we see the mercy of God. In the context of Isaiah, it is marvelous that there is such a thing as a righteous nation that remains faithful. But that is because these things may be had through trusting in the Lord (Isaiah 26:3-4).

In this passage, we see the faithfulness of God. He is the One who keeps His people in perfect peace.

In this passage, we see the justice of God. He lays low the proud and lifts up the humble, preparing a proper path for them to walk in.

In this passage, we see that God is satisfying. He fulfills the desires of His people not merely by providing them other things, but by providing Himself as the fulfilment of their desires.
What impact does God’s strength have on you? His mercy? His faithfulness? etc.
Suggested songs: ARP24 “The Earth and the Riches” or TPH163 “Open Now Thy Gates”

Monday, March 25, 2019

2019.03.25 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 this week’s sermon, the Holy Spirit points out to us several things about Noah’s salvation from the flood that teach us about our own salvation from Hell—and, ultimately, He teaches us about Jesus, our Savior.

First, we learn that God provides righteousness to Noah. It seems obvious that Noah is different, and that Yahweh has chosen him to be saved and to save humanity, but Yahweh underscores this for him: “I have seen (provided!) that you are righteous before Me.” This is no small righteousness. This is righteousness before the eyes of the Holy, Holy, Holy God—before Him whose eyes are too holy to look upon evil, and who dwells in unapproachable light. This can only be God’s own righteousness. And so only God can provide it. And, we know that it only comes by believing into Jesus.

Next, we learn that worship is the purpose of Noah’s salvation. There is a minimum of seven—probably 14—of every clean animal here. What are they there for? Not eating (yet, Genesis 9:3-4). For the eight of Noah, life is literally over-complicated and over-crowded with worship. The Lord is making it very clear to him (and to us) why they (and we) are being saved: for the worship of God. This points us to Jesus in two ways: first, the ultimate meaning of these sacrifices is not that God delights in roast meat but that God delights in His Son and His Son’s obedience. When we believe into Jesus, God’s delight in Jesus includes us.

Finally, we learn that we are unworthy of salvation. There is a seven-day-long drumroll as they sit in the ark, on the ground, waiting for everything to begin. The perishing people on the outside, and the animals that exist to perish as sacrifices on the inside, are a testimony to them of what they deserve. They are like the thieves on the cross—reminding us that the pouring out of God’s wrath upon Christ is a display of what we deserve and would suffer forever, if we do not believe into Him.
Why do you need Jesus to be your righteousness? Why does God save sinners? How should your unworthiness to be saved make you feel toward Jesus? How should it make you feel toward others?
Suggested Songs: ARP130A “Lord, from the Depths” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place”

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.
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”

Saturday, March 16, 2019

2019.03.16 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 tomorrow’s sermon, we hear the beginning of Mark’s gospel. Immediately, in Mark 1:1, he tells us that he is writing a gospel. It’s like placing a headline, or a cover page on the book that announces GOOD NEWS. So, one thing that we may want to do as we read through this book is to frequently ask ourselves, “how is this good news?”

That question is actually answered in at least three ways before the verse is over.
  1. His name is Jesus. Why was He called Jesus? (look at Matthew1:21). 
  2. His title is Christ. This is a Greek translation of the word, “Messiah,” or “Anointed One.” Jesus is the promised forever-king of 2 Samuel 7, the promised forever-priest of Psalm 110, the promised final great prophet of Deuteronomy 18 (cf. Acts 3:22-23).  
  3. His identity is that He is the Son of God. God Himself has come as our Savior, King, Priest, and Prophet.
Mark goes on to show the faithfulness of God, His perfect reliability. God promised that He Himself would come, and that He would first send a messenger (Mark 1:2-3). And John came, exactly as God promised (Mark 1:4-7).

But there’s a huge difference here between the messenger and the Messiah. What did John baptize with? The messenger baptized with water, a symbol of the people’s need for repenting from sin and being forgiven of sin.

And in Mark 1:8, what does John say that Jesus will baptize with? Again, we can see that Jesus must be not just a man but God Himself, for He pours God Himself the Holy Spirit out upon those whom He baptizes. Jesus’ baptism gives the repentance and forgiveness that John’s baptism could only tell us that we needed.
Have you come to Jesus for washing? How does He give forgiveness? Repentance?
Suggested Songs: ARP32 “What Blessedness” or TPH391 “Come, O Come, Thou Quickening Spirit”

Friday, March 15, 2019

2019.03.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 11:1-16

Questions for Littles: Who was sick (John 11:1)? What was the town called? What does John 11:2 note about Mary? To whom do the sisters send (John 11:3)? What did the sisters call their brother? What does Jesus say the sickness is not unto (John 11:4)? What does Jesus say that the sickness is for? What does John 11:5 tell us about Jesus? What did He do because He loved them (John 11:6)? Then what does He say to the disciples (John 11:7)? What objection do the disciples have to going to Judea (John 11:8)? What does Jesus say can’t happen to Him while He walks in the day (John 11:9)? What does He then say about Lazarus (John 11:11)? What do the disciples think this means (John 11:12)? But what does Jesus actually mean (John 11:13-14)? What does Jesus say that He feels about this death (John 11:15)? Why? What does Thomas propose that they go do with Jesus?
In the Gospel reading this week, we saw some things that were precious and some that were surprising. It is precious to hear Bethany called “the town of” Christ’s friends. It is precious to have Mary identified by her displays of love to Christ. It is precious to see the sisters call Lazarus “he whom You love.” It is precious to read, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” And, indeed it is precious (and perhaps slightly surprising) to see Thomas saying, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”

The love of the Savior for His own, and the love of them for Him, is deeply precious!

But there is also several surprises in this passage. We might be surprised to read that this sickness is not unto death—or at least, we are very surprised when after Jesus says that, Lazarus dies. He sets us up to expect that this is not in fact the end.

It is also surprising that it was precisely because of His love for them that Jesus doesn’t immediately go to them. How can that be love? We often ask the same question in our own lives. But Jesus intended to show them something greater than they even thought to ask.

Then, it is surprising that Jesus decides to go to Judea. Apparently, the disciples hadn’t minded not going up, because when Jesus decides to go, they decide that His plan is insane. But Jesus cannot die, because His time hasn’t come yet. He even hints at the great theme of this chapter: He alone has light and life in Himself!
How do you know Jesus loves you? How do you know you love Jesus? What circumstances don’t seem to be showing His love? Do you trust what He’s doing?
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH231 “Whate’er My God Ordains”

Thursday, March 14, 2019

2019.03.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:8

Questions for Littles: What do we not lose (2 Corinthians 4:16)? What is perishing? What is being renewed? How often? What does the apostle call our affliction in 2 Corinthians 4:17? How long does he say it lasts? What is it working for us? How does this glory compare in length? How does this glory compare in weight? What do we need to do in the meantime (2 Corinthians 4:18)? Why? What does 2 Corinthians 5:1 call our bodies? But where is the unseen house? What do we do in the seen house (2 Corinthians 5:2)? How do we feel about our unseen house? How do we feel without that house (2 Corinthians 5:3)? Is our desire to be unclothed of our physical body (2 Corinthians 5:4a)? What should our desire be? Who has prepared us for this (2 Corinthians 5:5a)? How has He guaranteed/assured us that these things are ours (2 Corinthians 5:5b)? What effect does this have upon our attitudes (2 Corinthians 5:6a2 Corinthians 5:8a)? What are we currently at home in and away from (2 Corinthians 5:6b)? How will we feel about being away from the body instead and present with the Lord instead (2 Corinthians 5:8b)? How, therefore, must we walk (2 Corinthians 5:7)? 
In this week’s Epistle reading, we learn the key to viewing any and all earthly troubles as just light and momentary. Seeing what is invisible.

The problem is that our troubles are very visible. They do not look light but weighty. They do not look momentary but long. But these troubles are not just going to be replaced by an eternal weight of glory. They are actually working for us this eternal weight of glory. As our outward man perishes, we remember that bodily suffering is for a short time. And as we learn and grow in these trials, we “see” that our inward man is being made fit for glory.

Of course, we don’t “see” that—our souls are invisible. And that helps us develop our x-ray vision by which we see the unseen: faith. Our souls have far more to look forward to than mortal, perishable bodies. First and foremost, we look forward to the immediate presence of our Redeemer and His glory. Second, and also glorious, our souls look forward to a resurrection in which our new bodies will be immortal and suit our eternal inheritance of the glory of Christ.

Faith doesn’t just see these things. It is confident of these things. And it grows in this confidence because of the Holy Spirit. He teaches our hearts to call God Father, and we grow confident of our adoption. He teaches our hearts to love God Himself, and we grow confident that God Himself is our inheritance. He teaches us to walk by faith, not by sight, and to look forward with joy to an eternal weight of glory!
What troubles are you going through? What are they working for you? How do you know?
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH466 “My Faith Looks up to Thee”

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

2019.03.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 20

Read Joshua 20
Questions for Littles: Who spoke in Joshua 20:1? To whom? And to whom did He tell him to speak (Joshua 20:2)? What did He tell him to tell them to appoint? Through whom had He said this before? What kind of slayer/killer could flee there (Joshua 20:3)? From whom would this be a refuge for him? Where would he stand when he flees to one of those cities (Joshua 20:4)? To whom would he declare his case? What would the elders of the city do if they agree with his case? When the avenger of blood arrives, what will the elders of the city do (Joshua 20:5)? How does verse 5 define manslaughter? What additional trial was he to have according to Joshua 20:6 (cf. end of Joshua 20:9)? And upon whose death could he return to his own city and his own house? Which cities were appointed in which tribes, in Joshua 20:7-8? Who had access to these cities of refuge (Joshua 20:9)?
In this week’s Old Testament reading, we read about the cities of refuge for someone who is not guilty of murder, but has accidentally killed someone. The deceased person’s relative has a duty to go and get vengeance, and so the manslayer needs a place to go where he can hide from vengeance. Finally, there is the death of the High Priest, which releases even the need for finding refuge. All three of these are a beautiful picture of the Lord Jesus Christ unto us.

First, Christ is our place of refuge. What’s wonderful about this is the many ways in which He is better than one of the cities in Joshua 20. He is a refuge for any sin and not just involuntary manslaughter. He is a refuge, even if we are guilty—which is important, because we are so frequently guilty! He is a refuge who is available everywhere, and who doesn’t take any time at all to get to—just imagine how important your cross-country running times would be if you ended up in one of these situations! Finally, He is a perfect judge and perfect defender. How very much, for the manslayer would depend upon the elders and congregation of the city to which he fled.

Second, Christ is our High Priest. He has already died, once for all. This is one of many reasons that the Mosaic civil law cannot still be in effect. It is directly tied to the ceremonial law, which has been replaced by Christ. And Christ, having already died, does accomplish not the same thing, but something better. When the High Priest died, the time for vengeance on the manslayer expired. So in Christ, we do not merely have a refuge in Whom we may hide from wrath; but we have the expiration of vengeance altogether. Indeed, the Lord Jesus does something that no other High Priest ever did. He rose again. So in Him, we have not only the expiration of wrath, but the desert of blessedness. No longer are we separated from home and inheritance; rather, we are now joint-heirs with Him in Whom everywhere is our home and rightful inheritance!

Third, Christ is our own avenger of blood. He is our close relative. He considers it a duty to get complete vengeance for whatever has been done to us. But again, He is so much better. There is nowhere our persecutors or enemies can flee from Him. Even if it should cost Jesus to suffer the full wrath of God Himself, He will make sure that all that is done against us is fully repaid.
Have you fled to Christ? Have you become a joint-inheritor with Him? In what situations do you need to hear that He will avenge all wrongs against you?
Suggested songs: ARP32 “What Blessedness” or TPH274 “Jesus, My Great High Priest”

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

2019.03.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 92:1-9

Questions for Littles: For what day is this Psalm a song (title)? What two things does Psalm 92:1 say are good to do on the Sabbath? When does Psalm 92:2 say that it is good to do this? What Levitical instruments are mentioned in Psalm 92:3? What does the psalmist feel, as he praises God, in Psalm 92:4? Why? What two things does the psalmist praise in Psalm 92:5? Who doesn’t see these things (Psalm 92:6)? What will happen to such wicked enemies of God (Psalm 92:7Psalm 92:9)? Why—where is God, and for how long (Psalm 92:8)? 
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin all came from Psalm 92:1-9. This is a particularly appropriate passage for Lord’s Day worship, because the Holy Spirit Himself titled it “A Song for the Sabbath Day.”

And what is the Sabbath for? Worship. Worship in the morning. Worship in the evening. Worship in the officially consecrated service, through God’s appointed priest—this is the implication of the instruments in Psalm 92:3… how beautiful it is when God’s design for worship is followed! Of course, God’s appointed priest now isn’t the Levitical string section, but Jesus who plays the melody of grace upon our hearts (cf. Ephesians 5:19 with Colossians 3:16).

The Sabbath is a day for setting aside our works for considering, by means of the Lord’s works, the Lord Himself.

If we know Him—and we do so primarily and especially by knowing Christ, whose redemption is God’s greatest work by far—if we know Him, then we will love an entire day to spend praising and thanking Him for His works and the thoughts toward us that His works reveal!

The flipside of this is what it says of us if we don’t really want to spend the day this way. Then, we are those senseless fools who say in our hearts that there is no God. And what a frightening position to be in! God isn’t going to get off the throne just because we don’t enjoy Him enough (cf. Psalm 92:8).

Thankfully, His greatest work has been for Himself to be our righteousness in Jesus, and for Himself to suffer as a perishing enemy in our place, in Jesus!
What do you love to do on the Lord’s Day? For what does this show great love?
Suggested songs: ARP92 “It’s Good to Thank the Lord” or TPH157 “When Morning Gilds the Skies”

Monday, March 11, 2019

2019.03.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 6:13-22

Questions for Littles: Who spoke to Noah in Genesis 6:13? What did He tell Noah had come before Him? Why—with what was the earth filled? What will the Lord do to them? What does He tell Noah to do in Genesis 6:14? What to make in it? With what to cover it? What dimensions does God command (Genesis 6:15)? What features does He command in Genesis 6:16? What is God’s part to do with the world (Genesis 6:17)? What is God’s part to do with Noah (Genesis 6:18a)? With whom else is God establishing His covenant (Genesis 6:18-20)? What else does God command Noah to take (Genesis 6:21)? What does Noah do? 
In the Scripture for this week’s sermon, God drops a huge hint about how the Seed of the woman is going to crush the serpent’s head: by starting a whole new humanity.

This, really, is what is going on with Noah, isn’t it? God is wiping out all of humanity, and even producing a new earth. On the ark, He will put an entire new Eden, with every kind of animal, and all food for them. Noah is a new Adam—we are all descended from him. God is treating him, already, as covenant head—saving all his family, all his “humanity” with him.

But he isn’t the new Adam that we need. Oh, he’ll do as far as getting us to Jesus physically goes. But spiritually? That’s the bigger problem, isn’t it? And, spiritually, Noah isn’t even the new Adam that Noah needs. Let alone the new Adam that we need. Only Jesus is that!

There are things that only God can do. Only God can judge the earth (Genesis 6:17). Only God can make stand the covenant to save humanity (Genesis 6:18). And, in the end, only God can do even man’s part!

But God has also appointed means. He gave the command for the ark. He gave very specific commands about its materials, dimensions, and features. He commanded food.

God has also appointed means for bringing us to faith in Jesus. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. And means for growing us in Jesus. Sanctify them by Your truth; Your Word is truth.
In whom are you hoping to become part of the new humanity? Are you using His means?
Suggested Songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH260 “All Mankind Fell…”

Saturday, March 09, 2019

2019.03.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 6:13-22

Questions for Littles: Who is speaking in Genesis 6:13? To whom? What does God say has come before Him? Why? What does God tell Noah to do in Genesis 6:14? What does He say to put in it? With what does He say to cover it? What else does the Lord say about the design for the ark in Genesis 6:15-16? What did the Lord say would be His particular part in Genesis 6:17—what would He do? Why? What would the Lord establish with Noah (Genesis 6:18)? And with whom else? What else does the Lord tell Noah to bring in Genesis 6:19-21? What does Noah do (Genesis 6:22)? How much of what God commanded him did he do?
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, we find several mercies that God shows unto Noah.

One mercy that God demonstrates to Noah is that He talks to him. God is merciful to tell His people what He is like, what they are like, what He plans to do, what He wants them to do, and more.

A second mercy that God demonstrates to Noah is that He spares his life. I think that sometimes, the greatness of God’s mercy to spare us seems to fade from our view; but as Noah worked on the ark, he would have had that continual reminder of God sparing him.

A third mercy that God demonstrates to Noah is that He establishes His covenant with him. He brings Noah, and all those who are under Noah and in Noah, into a committed relationship with Himself.

A fourth mercy that God demonstrates to Noah is employing Noah to spare and bless others. God gives Noah a part in His plan and even makes Noah an image of Himself and of Christ. This is a tremendous privilege.

A final mercy is that the Lord testified of Noah’s righteous deeds. Of course, these were only done by God’s grace. And that is true of all of our righteous deeds as well. What a great mercy—to have the living God declare his righteous deeds!
Where has God spoken to you? How has God spared you? In whom has God brought you into covenant with Himself? With whom else has He brought you into a display on earth of that covenant? How has God given you the privilege of being used in His work in others? When will God declare your righteous deeds?
Suggested Songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH1A “That Man Is Blest”

Friday, March 08, 2019

2019.03.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 10:22-42

Questions for Littles: What was happening in Jerusalem (John 10:22)? What season was it? Where was Jesus in John 10:23? What did the Jews do to Him in John 10:24a? What did they demand (verse 24b)? How does Jesus respond in John 10:25? What does Jesus say bear witness of Him in addition to His words? What is His explanation for their unbelief in John 10:26? Who do hear His voice (John 10:27)? What else do they do? What does Jesus give them (John 10:28)? Who can snatch them out of His hand? Who has given Jesus’s sheep to Him (John 10:29)? Who can snatch them out of His Father’s hand? What does Jesus say about Himself in John 10:30? How do the Jews respond in John 10:31? What does Jesus ask in John 10:32? What do the Jews say they are stoning Him for (John 10:33)? What does Jesus point out about language in John 10:34-35? What does Jesus say the Father did to Him in John 10:36? What does He present as proof that He is the Son of God (John 10:37)? How does Jesus describe His relationship with His Father at the end of John 10:38? What did they seek in John 10:39? What happened? Where did Jesus go in John 10:40? Who came to Him there (John 10:41)? What did they say? What did they do (John 10:42)? 
In the Gospel reading this week, we find people who cannot save themselves and others who cannot be stopped from being saved.

First, those who cannot save themselves. The Jews’ unbelief is so hard and sad. Jesus has told them plainly who He is—and then when He tells them again, they want to kill Him! Notice, by the way, that Jesus does not deny their charges of what He is claiming about Himself. He simply attests that His claims are true! He has even done works—works that John the Baptizer hadn’t displayed—that prove that He and His Father are One. But they still can’t believe.

But then there are those whose salvation cannot be stopped. We know why. When they hear Jesus’s voice, they know Him, and He knows them. He gives them eternal life. No one can snatch them out of His hand. He gives them eternal life, because His Father was the One who gave them to Him. No one can snatch them out of the Father’s hand. Their salvation goes all the way back into God Himself—how can anything in all creation and time ever undo that?!

Therefore, even though there was just recently a very public attempt on His life, they are glad to come to Him and believe in Him.
If salvation starts in God Himself, what does that mean for your own salvation? 
Suggested songs: ARP23A “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome…”

Thursday, March 07, 2019

2019.03.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 4:8-15

Questions for Littles: What four things have happened to the apostle and his companions in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9? What four accompanying results have not ended up happening? What are they carrying about (2 Corinthians 4:10)? How often? For what reason—what does this display in them? What are they currently doing (2 Corinthians 4:11a)? But what is always happening to them? What does this display in their mortal flesh (verse 11b, cf. 2 Corinthians 1:8-10)? In whom else, then, does the life of Jesus operate (2 Corinthians 4:12)? Why do the apostle and his companions speak (2 Corinthians 4:13)? Who has been raised (2 Corinthians 4:14a)? Who will be raised (verse 14b)? With whom (verse 14c)? What spreads through each one for whom this life and this resurrection and this future are true 
(2 Corinthians 4:15)? What does this cause to abound? Unto what end is all of this thanksgiving?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we learn why it is so important that the “victorious Christian life” be lived in the midst of much trouble and suffering: precisely because it is gaining the victory.

When the victory is gained in this manner, it is obvious that the excellence of the power is of God and not of us (2 Corinthians 4:7). When the victory is gained by those who are being displayed as under a death sentence (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:9-13; 2 Corinthians 1:8-10), it is obvious that the life that is in them is not actually from them but from someone else (2 Corinthians 4:10-11). When the victory is gained by those who are being displayed as under a death sentence, it is obvious that the life that comes through them to others is not actually from them but from someone else (2 Corinthians 4:12). And when the victory is gained not by escaping death but by passing through it and conquering it, it is obvious that the unendable life that results comes from the same place as Jesus’s own resurrection.

Well, when we receive something that is not at all from ourselves but entirely from Someone else, this produces not just thanksgiving but abounding thanksgiving (2 Corinthians 4:15). And when thanksgiving to God abounds in this fashion, this further glorifies God! This is the joy of the believer—to bring glory to the God who has given him life out of death in Jesus Christ!!
What troubles and inabilities currently complicate your life? If you are a Christian, then Whose life is the Lord especially displaying in you in these particular situations? If you are not, then why should you expect ultimately to fail? What is the right response of seeing that Jesus’s life is our only life and power?
Suggested songs: ARP66A “O All the Earth” or TPH265 “In Christ Alone”

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

2019.03.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 18-19

Questions for Littles: Who are gathered at Shiloh in Joshua 18:1? What do they set up there? What has been done to the land? What does Joshua 18:2 say still needs to happen? With what question does Joshua challenge them in Joshua 18:3? What command does he give them in Joshua 18:4? Which tribes are already the southern and northern “bookends” of Israel (Joshua 18:5)? Once the land is divided into seven parts, how will it be decided which tribe gets which part (Joshua 18:6)? Before Whom is the lot cast? Who is the first to be mentioned that they will not get one of these seven regions in Joshua 18:7? Why not—what do they get instead? Who else do not get one of these seven regions? Why not? Who gave their inheritance to them? What command is given a third time in Joshua 18:8? To whom, specifically, is it given this time? What process does Joshua 18:9 summarize? What happened after this process in Joshua 18:10? Whose lot came up first (Joshua 18:11)? Second (Joshua 19:1)? Third (Joshua 19:10)? Fourth (Joshua 19:17)? Fifth (Joshua 19:24)? Sixth (Joshua 19:32)? Seventh (Joshua 19:40)? Who else receives an inheritance in Joshua 19:49? How was this inheritance selected (Joshua 19:50)? Where and in front of whom were these inheritances divided (Joshua 19:51)?
In this week’s Old Testament reading, although not all of the Canaanites have been driven out, the war is over. The land is subdued. The problem is that there are seven tribes that have not yet received their inheritance.

Surprisingly, Joshua tells them that it is their fault. His triple-repeated command to survey the land and identify the borders of seven regions carries with it the implication that this is something that they should have done by now. The first repetition is the strongest, “How long will you neglect…?”

In other words, since God has promised it to them, faith would have acted upon that promise, and their inaction is actually indicative of some measure of unbelief.

Of course, although faith acts, its hope is not in its action but in the Lord upon the basis of whose Word the action is taken, and before Whom the action is taken, and unto Whom the actors look for the blessing of the action.

That’s the point of the casting of lots—not that it is random… in fact, exactly the opposite! All of this is done before the Lord. In this particular case, it is done at the tabernacle. That place of intersection between God and man. That place that John 1 tells us was ultimately fulfilled when the Word became flesh and tabernacle among us!
What has Jesus earned for you to receive? What has Jesus earned to be done to you first in order to receive it? What are Jesus’s means by which He does this for you? From where do you receive your instruction for doing these things? Before Whom do you do these things? Unto whom do you look for their blessing? What does all of that look like?
Suggested songs: ARP119B “How Can a Young Man Cleanse His Way?” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

2019.03.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 20:8-11

Questions for Littles: What is the first word/command in Exodus 20:8? Which particular day is it that we are to remember? For what purpose are we to remember it? In order to keep the Sabbath holy, on which days should we have it in mind (Exodus 20:9)? To Whom does the Sabbath belong (Exodus 20:10)? How much work should we do on it?  Who else should not work on it? What else should not work on it? What explanation does Exodus 20:11 give for the pattern of “six and one”? What did the Lord create? How much of it? How long did He take to do this? What did He do on the seventh day? What two things did the Lord do to the Sabbath day?  
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin all came from Exodus 20:8-11.

Remember. Ironically, one of the things that we tend to forget about the fourth commandment is that it begins with a command to “remember.” Why would we need such a command? Because of our tendency/likelihood to forget. And because of the necessity of remembering the day if we are actually going to keep holy the day.

Sabbath. It literally means stopping. Yes, we gloss this meaning with the word “rest,” but at its fundamental core, it means to stop. Of course, we cannot quit everything. So, it must be that there are specific things that we are to stop in order to do other things.

Day. We know what a day is by Exodus 20. In fact, we know what a day is by the end of Genesis 1:5. 24 hours. It is not the Sabbath hour. Or the Sabbath morning. Or the Sabbath exercises. It is an entire day that is to be remembered. And an entire day that is to be kept.

Keep. Guard. Observe. Defend. Follow through with. The word has all of these meanings in this context. Remembering the stopping day is not so much about what may not be done on that day, but about what must be done on that day. It’s not about what the day is against but what the day is for.

Holy. This is what the day is for. Being separated from all other uses and consecrated unto God. This is what we remember on the other six days. This is why we must not permit anyone else to work for us or near us upon that day.

Blessed (Exodus 20:11). It almost goes without saying. Can there be anything more blessed than to set aside the creation to spend a day attending upon the Creator Himself? This is, literally, the ultimate blessing!
When are you to remember the Sabbath? How are you to do this? Why?
Suggested songs: ARP118D “Now Open Wide the Gates” or TPH153 “O Day of Rest and Gladness”

Monday, March 04, 2019

2019.03.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 6:6-12

Questions for Littles: Who is “sorry” in Genesis 6:6? What is He sorry about? How else does verse 6 say He was sorry? What does the Lord say in Genesis 6:7? What did Noah find in Genesis 6:8? Where did he find this grace? What does Genesis 6:9 say was begotten of Noah—what kind of man was he? What was he “in his generations”? What did he do? What does Genesis 6:10 say was begotten of Noah? Before whom was the earth corrupt (Genesis 6:11)? With what was it filled? Who looked upon the earth (Genesis 6:12)? What did He see? Who had corrupted their way on the earth? 
In the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we find something strange. Yahweh is sorry and grieved in His heart. Now, we know that the Lord doesn’t have a body and doesn’t change His mind. Even stranger, in Genesis 6:7, the Lord says that He will destroy man and that He is “sorry” that He made man. To whom is He speaking? Just like when we saw the Lord “rest” on the seventh day, or “walk” in the cool of the evening, we know that this is a manner of speaking for our benefit. He is teaching us that He responds in a perfectly holy and righteous way to our sin.

Now, when we think about it, these may be a strange-sounding way of telling us about it, but what the passage is telling us so far is not that strange. The holy and righteous God should destroy all sinners! That makes Genesis 6:8-9 the truly strange verses in this passage. How could Noah find grace in Yahweh’s eyes? And how can it be that Noah was a just man? That he was perfect in his generations? That he walked with God?

Ultimately, the answer has already been revealed in Genesis. God has promised that there will be offspring of the woman. In fact, He has promised that there will be one specific Seed who crushes the serpent’s head.

So, on the one hand, Noah has to survive, because from him, Jesus must descend.

And, on the other hand, Noah can in fact survive, precisely because his descendant Jesus would satisfy the holiness and righteousness of God on his behalf.

Grace finds Noah. Grace credits Noah with righteousness for the sake of Christ. Grace transforms Noah—not because Noah deserves it, or because Noah has any ability in himself, but because Jesus deserves it, and Jesus has the power in Him.
What do you deserve? Who deserves different? What has He done for you? 
Suggested Songs: ARP32 “What Blessedness” or TPH130A “Lord, from the Depths”

Saturday, March 02, 2019

"Flash Mobs from Heaven" -- Pastoral Letter from the 2019.03.03 Hopewell Herald

Dear Congregation,

Have you ever witnessed online—or even in person—a “flash mob”? The term refers to coordinated performances that take place out where unsuspecting people find themselves suddenly immersed in something that is from another world than the one that they were expecting.

They were in the world of the shopping mall, or the street corner, or the train station; then, suddenly, they find themselves in the world of the symphony or the chorale. Oftentimes, people who are very unfamiliar with these worlds find themselves enjoying very much this invading sample from the other world.

On a number of occasions in the first year of her life, it has been a joy to observe this “flash mob” effect on our Itty Bit, as she is affectionately called. She will be sitting with us at table for a meal. Things will get (mostly) cleaned up. Daddy will say, “God made.” Everyone will say, “everything!” Daddy will say, “And God helps.” Everyone will say, “us!” Daddy will say, “So let’s worship.” Everyone will say, “God!” Then there will be prayer. Then everyone will open a book. Then the most amazing thing happens. The entire family breaks forth into singing.

It is difficult to find words for the look on Itty Bit’s face at this point. She seems clearly to see that there has been an invasion from some wonderful world at this point. And not just the world of singing in four part harmony—although there is that. But rather the world of praise. The world that exists in the more cognizantly immediate presence of God.

No, she doesn’t always (or often, yet!) behave well all the way through Bible reading, though it does seem that she understands that this is like no other reading that we do as a family (and we read other things). No, she doesn’t always make it all the way through Bible explanation/application, though she does seem to be observing that this is different than normal conversation. And she doesn’t quite seem to “get” prayer—though she seems to get that it is different than anything else that we do.

On the whole, the exercises of worship aren’t things that she seems to be processing in the way that one day (soon!) she will be. But one thing that she is processing is that there is another world, and our family belongs to it and participates in it—even though we also have a zip code in Middle Tennessee. And—God helping us—she is starting to learn that there is a joy in this belonging and participation that is, quite literally, other-worldly.

When, some time ago, we were in Hebrews 12:18-29 as a congregation, we learned from Scripture that corporate worship on the Lord’s Day is a visit to this other world. It’s kind of the inverse of the flash mob. We come to the great cloud of witnesses—and especially to Him Himself whom they witness—and discover there wonders and joys that leave an impression upon us that is far greater than the sum of the particular benefits of the particular exercises of worship.

The difficulty for us is that this visit must occur by faith, and this impression is perceived by faith. May the Lord, who measures out faith unto believers, measure out unto us an ever-increasing portion for these weekly visits to glory!

Looking forward to visiting there with you tomorrow,


2019.03.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 6:6-12

Questions for Littles: Who was sorry in Genesis 6:6? What was He sorry about? How does the verse say that God felt? In what does it say that He felt that? Who says something in Genesis 6:7? To whom does He say it? But whom is He telling about it, as you read it? Whom did He say that He would destroy? What else does He say that He will destroy along with man? Why? Who was different (Genesis 6:8)? What did he find that made him different? Where did he find this grace? Of whom is Genesis 6:9 telling us the outcome? What kind of man was Noah? Among whom was he blameless? How does verse 9 summarize the activity of his life? How many sons did Noah father (Genesis 6:10)? Who were they? What does Genesis 6:11 say was corrupt? Before whom was it corrupt? With what was it filled? Who looked upon the earth in Genesis 6:12? What did He see? How had the earth become so corrupt?
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, we are surprised to have the Bible tell us that God was “sorry.” It’s a word that means to counsel oneself into a different mindset. Depending upon the context, English translations sometimes say “repent,” sometimes “comfort,” and sometimes (as here) “was sorry.”

Now, obviously God knows everything that will happen before He does anything, so why speak to us in this manner? Perhaps for the same reason that Genesis 6:6 goes on to say that He was “grieved in His heart.” Does God have a heart? Of course not—He has no parts at all. These two ideas are connected when we confess that God has neither parts nor passions (WCF 2.1).

But God created us with parts so that in our own finite way, we might be able to learn more about Him. When the Bible speaks of Him using language borrowed from our parts, it’s called an anthropomorphism. Similarly, when the Bible speaks of Him using language borrowed from our passions, it’s called an anthropopathism. The fact of the matter is that God is always in perfectly holy relation toward His creation. So, of course He is displeased by the wickedness of man. That is the (literally) perfect response to sin!

Really, there is a much bigger surprise than to find the Scripture talking about God being sorry that He has made man. That surprise is to find the Scripture saying that Noah was a righteous man—even calling him blameless in his generations and telling us that he walked with God. If Genesis 6:5 was true, how can these other things be? More to the point, How can God rightly permit this if what Noah deserves is to be given over to his own wickedness?

The answer is found in that remarkable Genesis 6:8. Noah found grace in the eyes of Yahweh. Or, to put the action upon the correct party, “Grace found Noah.” God determined that He would be gracious. He had made promises that demanded the covenant line be preserved. Sometimes that line hangs by a thread. But if that thread is the determination of God to bring about what He has promised in Christ, then the thread has an infinite “test weight,” and it will hold. Amazing grace!
What is the only way that you could end up righteous, blameless, and walking with God?
Suggested Songs: ARP33A-B “What Blessedness” or TPH130A “Lord, from the Depths to You I Cry!”