Tuesday, April 30, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 29, 2019

2019.04.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 1:1-5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, April 27, 2019

2019.04.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 1:1-5

Read John 1:1-5
Questions for Littles: When was the Word already there (John 1:1)? With whom was the Word at that time? Who was He at that time? Who was with (literally, “toward,” or “facing”) God in the beginning (John 1:2)? What was made through Him (John 1:3)? What wasn’t made through Him? What was in Him (John 1:4)? What did men receive from this light? What does the light do now (John 1:5)? What has the former light of men become? What can’t the darkness grasp? 
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, we will hear an astonishing introduction to Jesus Christ. It doesn’t start in Bethlehem. It doesn’t start in the womb of Mary. In fact, it doesn’t even start in time. In the beginning, the Word already was. From all eternity. How? The Word was God. And Jesus’s mission was one that began outside of time.

The Gospel of John is the story of God, the eternally glorious Son, breaking into time to retrieve the adoptive children, and bring them home to Father, where they will enjoy Him (Christ) as the very glory of the Father Himself, forever and ever.

So John begins by taking us literally to the beginning: the glory that Jesus had with God before the world began—from all eternity, the Father and the Son (with the Spirit, who is not explicitly mentioned here) in perfect and equal glory and power, of the same substance.

This glory, God displayed by creating, and of course the Son is the Creator every bit as much as the Father is. Because the Word was God. So everything else that is not God is created by the Word. He is, therefore, very God of very God from the beginning. No wonder various cults either deny or rewrite this portion of Scripture!

And what a glorious beginning for man: the life of the Word Himself was given to men to be their light. Man was made in His image. Nothing else in creation can make that claim.

Sadly, man fell quickly. His light became darkness—so dark, in fact, that when the Word Himself came and shined in the darkness, men were unable to grasp His light. But to those who, by the will of God, receive the new birth and come to believe in Him, He gives them, too, the amazing right to be called the children of God!
What were you created to be? What would you be by yourself? What has God done about that?
Suggested Songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken to My Lord” or TPH270 “At the Name of Jesus”

Friday, April 26, 2019

2019.04.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 12:12-16

Questions for Littles: How many people are in the crowd mentioned in John 12:12? What did they hear was happening? What did they take with them in John 12:13? Whom did they go to meet? What did they quote from Psalm 118:25-26? What did Jesus seek and find in John 12:14? What did He do with it? What was He saying about Himself, from Zechariah 9:9 (John 12:15)? Who didn’t understand these things at first (John 12:16)? When did they realize that Psalm 118 and Zechariah were referring to Jesus?
In the Gospel reading this week, the chief priests’ and Pharisees’ greatest fear seems to come true. Before John took us to the little dinner party in Bethany, we had left Jerusalem with two groups who were wondering if Jesus would come—the Passover-early-arrivers who were there to purify themselves for the feast, and the religious leaders who were hoping to put Him to death before He got too popular.

Too late. It’s five days before Passover now, and this is not just “many” people as in John 11:55 but now a “great multitude.” And the conclusion to which they had come is that Jesus is the King of Israel of Whom Psalm 118 spoke. Still, crowds are fickle. It has become popular in recent years to point out that this isn’t exactly the same crowd that will be shouting “crucify Him!” a few days later, but surely there was some overlap. And who knows how many others had garnered such attention or gathered such a following? Gamaliel points out that this has happened before (cf. Acts 5:36-37).

What is much more significant is the actions of Jesus. John merely tells us that Jesus “found a young donkey.” Matthew, Mark, and Luke all described the process by which Jesus specifically sought one out. By telling us that the disciples did not understand at first, John highlights for us the one who did understand: Jesus.

It wasn’t so much that Jesus was trying to make sure that all the ‘i's were dotted and ‘t’s were crossed. It was “that these things were written about Him.” In other words, it was not just that Scripture was being fulfilled; rather, the Scripture was the way it was precisely because it was looking forward to Him. Who He would be is what had determined what would be written—not the other way around.

The King had come. The Scripture responded rightly (hundreds of years earlier). The crowds (for now) responded rightly. The apostles (later) responded rightly. The King has come. How will you respond? Praying for salvation (Hosanna) and adoring His Majesty? Trusting in Him (fear not, daughter of Zion!)? God grant that it would be so.
What has your response been, so far, to King Jesus? How will you respond now?
Suggested songs: ARP118D “Now Open Wide the Gates” or TPH325 “All Glory, Laud, and Honor”

Thursday, April 25, 2019

2019.04.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 8:8-15

Questions for Littles: What is the apostle intentionally not doing in 2 Corinthians 8:8? By urging them without command them, what is he testing? Who is the example for them (2 Corinthians 8:9)? What had He been? What did He become? Why? What opinion does he give in 2 Corinthians 8:10—to whose advantage will it be if they give? When had they planned to do this? What does he counsel them to do with their plans (2 Corinthians 8:11)? How will the completion of their willingness be tested, according to 2 Corinthians 8:12? What does the apostle not mean to happen to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 8:13)? What does he mean to happen to the Judean Christians now (2 Corinthians 8:14a)? And what does he mean to happen to the Corinthian Christians later (verse 14b)? Who is the One who makes sure that following His commands leads to full provision (2 Corinthians 8:15, cf. Exodus 16:11-31).
In this week’s Epistle reading, the apostle is urging a gift of charity in imitation of Christ, but he begins in a curious way, “I speak not by commandment.” Let us note that even though the law—given, as it was, to a church among whom very few were spiritually converted—commanded charity, the apostolic wisdom here is not to do so. In fact, the law was unable to produce charity, weakened as it was through the flesh—Boaz’s generosity in the things commanded actually made him a rare catch in his day!

The difference here is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Not just what He gave up, although this was an act, on His part, of grace toward us “though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor.” But it is also a work of His grace for us and in us, “that you through His poverty might become rich.”

Rich in what? Denarii (Roman coins)? Remember: this is the grace of Christ, “blessing for those who deserve only curse and strength for those who have only weakness.” And we could well add, “goodness in those who in themselves have only sinfulness.” Jesus makes us rich not in being wealthy, but rather in being generous!

Here, then, is the first great reason that the apostle does not compel their charity by way of command, to show “the sincerity of your love” by comparing it to that of the Macedonians. When the one love turns out to look just like the other love, then the conclusion will be unmistakable, “These loves have the same source: the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!”

But there is another reason in this passage as well: so that just like with the manna, which the Lord miraculously supplied in just the right amounts to each, so also as we depend upon Him both for a generous spirit in ourselves and for generous giving from others, God Himself can be displayed as the One who has provided it all: He makes us depend more and more upon Him, and gives us the privilege of participating in others’ also finding Him faithful.

May the Lord grant unto us to see our need or others’ need as an opportunity for the display of Christ’s grace in those who are generous and God’s generous provision to all!
What believer do you know who is needy? What might Christ do for each of you?
Suggested songs: ARP112 “O Praise the Lord” or TPH538 “Take My Life, and Let It Be”

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

2019.04.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 24:16-28

Questions for Littles: Who are answering in Joshua 24:16? Whom do they say they will not forsake? Whom do they say they will not serve? What are four things that they acknowledge that Yahweh has done in Joshua 24:17-18? What is the ultimate reason that they give for serving Him at the end of verse 18? What does Joshua tell the people that they cannot do in Joshua 24:19? What two reasons does he give for this from God’s character? What reason does he give from God’s justice? What will Yahweh do if they forsake Him and serve strange gods (Joshua 24:20)? What do the people respond in Joshua 24:21? What does Joshua call them in Joshua 24:22? Who else calls them that? Then what does Joshua tell them to put away in Joshua 24:23? What does he say to do with their hearts? What do the people say in Joshua 24:24? What does Joshua make with them that day in Joshua 24:25? What does he set up as a witness in Joshua 24:26? What does he say “has heard” the words (Joshua 24:27)? Where do the people now go (Joshua 24:28)?
In this week’s Old Testament reading, it seems like Joshua’s speech from the previous passage has gained its aim, when the people commit themselves to the correct action, “We also will serve Yahweh, for He is our God.” Except that was, apparently, not Joshua’s aim.

It must have been shocking to the people when he said, “You cannot serve Yahweh!” God is holy; He demands a single-mindedness, a whole-heartedness, of which they are just incapable. What’s worse for them is that Yahweh is a righteous judge, and they don’t deserve to be made capable (end of Joshua 24:19). And the final and ultimate problem is that this just judgment makes them all the more the targets of Yahweh’s wrath (Joshua 24:20).

Yet, the people continue to acknowledge that the judgment of Yahweh has been correct in this. Joshua warns them that they are being witnesses against themselves, and they agree that they are witnesses. Fully half of the passage is their interaction about the stone of witness. Why?

Because while the book of Joshua declares the Lord’s faithfulness to His people (no falling words!), it also means to leave us wondering, “what about the people’s unfaithfulness to the Lord?” (only falling words!). And the answer has the same Hebrew name as Joshua. Jesus.

Jesus was single-minded and whole-hearted toward God. And Jesus deserved for us to be made able to believe into Him, so that His righteousness could be counted before God as our righteousness, and His life could become ours, replacing our death. The final message of Joshua’s life is, “You need Jesus!” And you do!
Are you able to be whole-hearted toward God? Who is? What difference does that make?
Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man or TPH459 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

2019.04.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Questions for Littles: How many wise according to the flesh are called (1 Corinthians 1:26)? How many mighty are called? How many noble are called? Why has God chosen the foolish things of the world (1 Corinthians 1:27)? Why has God chosen the weak things of the world? Why has God chosen the base things of the world, and the things are despised, and the things which are not (1 Corinthians 1:28)? What does God want no flesh to do in His presence (1 Corinthians 1:29)? How did we come to be in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:30)? What four things is Christ Jesus for us? In what (whom!) should we glory, instead of ourselves (1 Corinthians 1:31)? 
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin all came from 1 Corinthians 1:26-31. In this passage, God lowers our self-esteem. He reminds us that the world considers us foolish. He reminds us that, humanly speaking, we are weak. We are unimpressive, and of little earthly account.

The sooner that we just admit this about ourselves, the sooner we can get to the (literally) glorious reason for this: so that our only glory will be the Lord Himself! At the end of the day, the more we try to retain some wisdom, strength, goodness, or any other quality worthy of admiring, the less we will admire the Lord alone.

Sadly, many of us have not gotten this message. As individuals, we think that we will be so impressive to our unbelieving friends that they will just want to become Christians on the spot after they meet us! We harbor secret suspicions that if our fellow church members would just be a little more impressive, we’d be able to get more people to stick. Or even worse, we build up an entire array of programs and strategies for looking impressive, and think that it’s actually a good thing when people come and stay for them!

If only we would, more often, take out the 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 mirror and take a good long look and say, “the only thing genuinely impressive about me is Jesus.” If only we would, more often, take out the 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 mirror and take a good long look and say, “the only thing genuinely impressive about our congregation is Jesus—and He is the only thing that can ever be genuinely impressive about us.”

Is Jesus’s glory so small that we think we can add to it, or feel that it needs adding to? Do we think that we do anyone a favor by displaying ourselves, when they could have Christ displayed to them instead? Would it be healthy if they were drawn to us, when they would not have been drawn to Christ?

Here is God, the eternal Son, who has become a man; and, as a man, He has become for us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption! Glory!!! Surely, if one is not moved by this, it matters little if we can get him to think that we are warm, welcoming, and have much to offer him!
May the Lord save us from ourselves and our self-esteem… so that we may have eyes fully open to the glory of Christ, and rejoice in His glory among us!
Of what are you tempted to be impressed about yourself or your church? How does this passage remind you to think about it instead? What are you hoping will draw people to Christ? If that is your hope, then how will you go about evangelizing them? 
Suggested songs: ARP189 “Universal Praise” or TPH435 “Not What My Hands Have Done”

Monday, April 22, 2019

2019.04.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 9:1-7

Questions for Littles: What did God do to Noah and his sons at the beginning of Genesis 9:1? What does He command them to do? What has God now put upon the animals (Genesis 9:2)? Upon how many of them and what kinds? What does He give them to eat (Genesis 9:3)? How many of them? What/how must they not eat any animals (Genesis 9:4)? What does God refer to as an animal’s life? For what does God demand a reckoning in Genesis 9:5? What reckoning, specifically, does He demand in Genesis 9:6? What reason does He give? What commandment does He restate in Genesis 9:7
In the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we saw the what, how, and why of God renewing the creation mandate in His redemption plan.

The “what” of the creation mandate was to fill creation with little images of God. Now, since we are all sinners, this means not just people but redeemed people. If we are fruitful and multiply and few come to faith, then instead of filling the earth with pictures of God’s life in Christ, we would be filling the earth with pictures of the death that we all died in Adam.

The “how” of the creation mandate was by God’s provision and power. He gives us all that we need. Breath, light, clothing, physical life, even meat to eat! And, He reminds us that His power is sufficient. Sufficient to sustain the animals—even as man “takes a bite” out of them. Sufficient to sustain the people. But even more than that—that God’s life is our life. Jesus’s life is the provision for us to live instead of die. Jesus’s life is the power by which we live.

The “why” of the creation mandate was because God loves to display Jesus as His glory. And God’s chosen way of displaying Jesus as His glory is to display Him as our Savior, and to display the difference that He makes in those whom He saves.

This has huge implications. There is no such thing as “just a human being.” There is either “a display of the death and shame of Adam” or “a display of the life and glory of Christ.” So the first thing is to know that your life is all about who Jesus is.

But, if that’s the case, then everything we do every day is an opportunity to display His glory. And everyone whom we encounter is potentially another one in whom Christ’s glory can be displayed, day by day and for all eternity!
In what part of your life do you have the most difficulty remembering that you are to be a display of Christ’s glory? How will you remind yourself? Whom do you know that needs to see Christ’s glory? What will you do to help them see Him?
Suggested Songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH461 “Blessed Are the Sons of God”

Saturday, April 20, 2019

2019.04.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 9:1-7

Questions for Littles: What did God do to Noah and his sons at the beginning of Genesis 9:1? What does He command them to do? What has God now put upon the animals (Genesis 9:2)? Upon how many of them and what kinds? What does He give them to eat (Genesis 9:3)? How many of them? What/how must they not eat any animals (Genesis 9:4)? What does God refer to as an animal’s life? For what does God demand a reckoning in Genesis 9:5? What reckoning, specifically, does He demand in Genesis 9:6? What reason does He give? What commandment does He restate in Genesis 9:7?
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, we revisit several themes from Genesis 1. The passage begins and ends with the primary theme: be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. In Genesis 9:7, the Lord even says it this way, “bring forth abundantly.”

The superiority and headship of man over the other creatures is also not just restated but escalated—the Lord put the dread of man on all the animals and gave them into man’s hand. The surpassing value of human beings is then reinforced in two ways:

First, man is given permission to kill animals to eat them. Likely, this was already being done, but as God states in Genesis 9:3, He hadn’t authorized this until now. Second, God makes it clear that man’s life is to be valued as the most precious thing in the creation. But notice the reason why—not in and of itself, but because man is created in the image of God. In fact, if a man assaults the image of God by taking another’s life, then it is precisely out of respect for the image of God that the murderer himself is to be executed.

This helps us to understand why God Himself makes a big deal out of us being fruitful and multiplying—because we are a display of Him in His creation. So, yes, on the one hand, if we took this to heart as a society, we would probably have many more large families.

But do you know what else we would have a lot of? Evangelizing those children in corporate worship, family worship, and personal discipleship and discipline. Would it really be valuing them as created in the image of God if we disregarded their eternal souls?!

This also means that we have a much more important way of honoring God’s image in our neighbor than merely declining to murder him. The Lord elsewhere puts the command in the positive form—to love our neighbor as ourselves. And there is no more important way to do this than to tell our neighbor the gospel of Jesus Christ, praying that the Christ of the gospel would send His Spirit to give life and faith to that neighbor.

Heaven understands this priority upon the image of God—all of heaven rejoices over just one sinner who repents! And so should we!
Whose eternal souls are you especially praying and working to see saved? What activities would result from treasuring God’s image in yourself? Whom could you be treating better?
Suggested Songs: ARP8 “Lord, Our Lord” or TPH8B “Lord, Our Lord, in All the Earth”

Friday, April 19, 2019

2019.04.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 12:1-11

Questions for Littles: How many days before Passover does chapter 12 begin (John 12:1)? Where did Jesus come? Who lived there? What had Jesus done for him? What did they make for Jesus (John 12:2)? Who sat at the table with Him? What did Mary use to anoint Jesus’s feet (John 12:3)? How did she wipe them? What filled the house? What was Judas one of (John 12:4)? What was he going to do? How much did he think they could get for the oil (John 12:5)? What did he say could be done with the money? But why did he really want more money in the money box (John 12:6)? What did Jesus say she was keeping and using the oil for (John 12:7)? Whom did Jesus say they would have with them always (John 12:8)? Whom did He say that they would not always have? How many Jews knew that Jesus was there and came (John 12:9)? Whom else did they come to see? What did who plot in John 12:10? Why (John 12:11)?
In the Gospel reading this week, Jesus gets ready to be buried. That sounds like an odd way to start this devotional—in part, because Jesus isn’t dead yet. Ordinarily, someone dies before they begin to embalm Him.

However, Jesus’s death was no ordinary death. He just finished, a couple of chapters ago, saying, “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father” (John 10:17-18).

So, Judas is plotting to betray Jesus. And the chief priests are plotting to kill Jesus. But Jesus Himself is plotting to die, and this is the means by which He is going to do it. And here He has come to be prepared for that—both by the perfume of Mary and by the praise of the Jews here in Bethany, which praise will be a part of getting the ball rolling.

Here is God Himself, who has become a Man, to lay His life down for us. Our being created in His image is the very reason that part of godliness is to care for the poor—to declare by our heart and behavior that the important thing about a man is the image of God.

Of course, there are selfish reasons to care for the poor. Like Judas, who couldn’t care less about them or even about Jesus Himself—but “charity” was pretty profitable for him. There are still people like that. And we ourselves are tempted to exercise charity just for that good feeling it gives us, or perhaps to appear good to others.

We have quite the capacity for self-deception… how dull-witted do you have to be to plan to kill the guy who just rose from the dead? So, what is a good way to gauge whether we do even “good deeds” from false motives? Well, the passage sets one before us: are we eager to give Jesus the best. The best of our time. The best of our thoughts. The best of our efforts. The best of our love. And yes, even the best of our money.

Of course, the good news is that even though our motives will never be pure on this side of glory, Christ’s motives were! And it is His motives that are counted for us as if they were ours, when we believe in Him. For, believers know that it was because our sin was counted as if it was His when He died for us. Hallelujah!
What has Jesus done for you? How does this make you feel toward Him? What’s the most precious thing that you have? How can it be used to serve Christ?
Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song” or TPH341 “Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed”

Thursday, April 18, 2019

2019.04.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 7:13-8:7

Questions for Littles: In what has Paul and his team found comfort (2 Corinthians 7:13)? Whom else’s joy has made them rejoice? How much? What made Titus rejoice? To whom had Paul and company spoken all things in truth (2 Corinthians 7:14)? To whom had he boasted about the Corinthians? Did those boasts come true? What two things have increased Titus’s affection for the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 7:15)? In what does Paul say he has confidence in the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 7:16)? Now, in 2 Corinthians 8:1, about whom is Paul boasting? What are their circumstances (2 Corinthians 8:2)? Of what do they have an abundance? What are they deeply in? In what did this poverty abound? According to what did they give (2 Corinthians 8:3)? Beyond what did they give? How intensely does 2 Corinthians 8:4 say that they asked the apostle to do something? What did they ask him to do? In what did they want to have fellowship? To Whom had they given themselves first (2 Corinthians 8:5)? And then, as a result, to whom? By whose will did this happen? Who had been making this collection from the Macedonians (2 Corinthians 8:6a)? From whom also did Paul urge Titus to continue collecting (verse 6b)? In what five things does the apostle say that they abound (2 Corinthians 8:7a)? In what does he now exhort them to abound (verse 7b)? What does he mean by “this grace”?
In this week’s Epistle reading, there is much boasting going on. The Macedonian churches sound pretty amazing. In great trial of affliction, they have overflowing joy. In deep poverty, they give with overflowingly rich generosity.

Upon first reading, one might wonder whether these churches are riddled with flaws like all of the churches that we have ever been a part of. But then, we might notice what the apostle has to say about the Corinthian church. Sure, there have been hints of good things here and there (particularly recently); but on the whole, my or your first description of this congregation might not have been “abounding in faith, speech, knowledge, diligence, and love.” Even if it were suddenly amazing (looking at the way he feels compelled to appeal to them in the rest of the letter, I’m not convinced that it was), the Corinthian church’s average rating on the internet might have taken quite a bit longer to recover than this.

So, how is the apostle able to speak with such encouragement about them? I think we have hints in 2 Corinthians 8:12 Corinthians 8:52 Corinthians 8:62 Corinthians 8:7. It was “the grace of God” that was bestowed on the churches of Macedonia. It was “by the will of God” that the Macedonians had given. And in verses 6-7, the apostle refers to the opportunity for the Corinthians to give as “this grace in you.”

Grace! That’s why the apostle is exceedingly gladdened and comforted by every glimmer of anything good in the Corinthians (and Macedonians). Because it is the fruit of the almighty power of God, exercised in the infinitely merciful grace of God!

May God give us grace—to abound with joy over every evidence of His grace in others!
Over whom in your church do you have difficulty rejoicing greatly? What are some evidences of grace in them over which you can rejoice?
Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place”

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

2019.04.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 24:1-15

Questions for Littles: Whom did Joshua gather in Joshua 24:1? For whom did he call? Before whom did they present themselves? Who is saying the words that are coming out of Joshua’s mouth (Joshua 24:2)? Who dwelt on the other side of the river? When? What did they do there? In Joshua 24:3, what four things does the Lord mention having done for Abraham? What did the Lord give Esau in Joshua 24:4? But where did Jacob and his children go? What did the Lord do there (Joshua 24:5)? Whom did the Lord bring out of Egypt (Joshua 24:6)? To where did they come? Who pursued them? To whom did the Israelites cry (Joshua 24:7)? What did He do? Then, where did the Israelites dwell for a long time? What happened with the Amorites on the east side of the Jordan (Joshua 24:8)? Who then arose against Israel (Joshua 24:9)? Whom did he call to do what? What did the Lord make Balaam to do instead (Joshua 24:10)? From the hands of which eight groups does Joshua 24:11 mention Yahweh delivering His people? What is one thing that the Lord used to deliver them (Joshua 24:12)? What does He say He did NOT use to deliver them? What four things does Joshua 24:13 say that God gave them, but that they did not have to produce? What does He, therefore, command them to do (Joshua 24:14)? Whom does He say to put away? Whose gods does Joshua suggest they might serve in Joshua 24:15? After reading the first fourteen verses, why might those gods be poor choices, even from a worldly perspective? Whom does Joshua say he will serve? Whom else does Joshua say will serve Yahweh?
In this week’s Old Testament reading, the Lord reminds His people about the god-battles that are part of their history. The gods of Egypt couldn’t deliver them. The gods of the Amorites couldn’t deliver them. Balak of the Moabites was smarter—he tried to have Yahweh on his side, but the Lord refused. The gods of Jericho couldn’t deliver them. The gods of the Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites, and Jebusites couldn’t deliver them. But Yahweh? He delivered Israel. And delivered them. And delivered them. And delivered them.

Can you imagine? Hornets rising up against you? And hailstones (cf. Joshua 10:11)? It would seem like the entire creation was up against you. But it was actually even worse: the Creator Himself was against them! For Israel’s part, the reverse was true: the Creator Himself was for them!

And He surrounded their lives with evidence that He is for them. Their land that they did not labor either to clear or to possess. Cities that they did not build. Vineyards and olive groves that they did not plant. Wells that they had not dug (cf. Deuteronomy 6:11).

The Lord has done even better for us, to show us that the Creator is for us. He, the Creator, has given Himself for us! Romans 8:31-32 puts it this way: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

So the same choice faces us today. Nothing else and no one else, that others trust in or live for, can deliver them or provide for them. But Yahweh, Jesus, has given Himself for us. Will we give ourselves to Him who gave Himself for us? Or will we reject all of the evidence around us and decide that we’d like life better trusting something/someone else and living for something/someone else?
In what do you tend to trust, instead of the Lord? In what do you tend to delight, instead of the Lord? For what do you tend to live instead of the Lord? What are a couple of your favorite things? What would it look like to enjoy them as from the Lord and use them as for the Lord?
Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH265 “In Christ Alone”

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

2019.04.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 4:14-16

Questions for Littles: Who is our great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14)? Through what has He passed? To what, then, should we hold fast? What do we not have, according to Hebrews 4:15? Like whom was Jesus tempted? In how many points was He tempted as we are? What is the difference between Jesus’ response to temptation and ours? To where, then, should we come (Hebrews 4:16)? In what manner should we come to the throne? What kind of throne is it for us? What do we hope to obtain and find at the throne? When should we come to the throne of grace for mercy and grace? 
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin all came from Hebrews 4:14-16. In this Scripture, we see that we must hold fast to our confession of Jesus as our High Priest—that is, to hold fast to Jesus Himself. We do so because He is worthy, and because we are needy.

First, He is worthy. Jesus is the Son of God (Hebrews 4:14), and so there is no more powerful or glorious High Priest possible.

Jesus is able to sympathize with our weakness, with our neediness, so there is no more appropriate High Priest possible. He was made like us in every way, and in all points tempted as we are.

And, Jesus is sinless, so there is no more effective High Priest possible. He does not have sin of His own to cleanse, and He offers Himself as the actual perfect sacrifice. The unspottedness of the former sacrifices could only hint at that perfection which is a reality in Christ. Whatever Jesus does on our behalf in glory is always effective.

Second, He is gracious. In our union with Christ, we come together all the way to the throne of glory. What do we find there? That the throne of glory is for us a throne of grace. Our Mediator, our great High Priest, is not bowed down before the throne. He is seated upon it!

The wonder of all of this is that we do not have to wait until we are strong or pure to go there. And that is good, because right now is our time of need. Right now is when we need mercy. Right now is when we need grace. Right now is when we need help. And right now, already, we may come.

When and how do we do that? Every time that we pray, we do that. But we especially do it when we are together, gathered as His church, gathered as those who confess Him together
Which do you forget about most easily: Jesus’ power, sympathy, or sinlessness? How will you go about learning and reminding yourself of it, to help you hold fast to Him? 
Suggested songs: ARP183 “Under His Wings” or TPH522 “Behold, the Throne of Grace!”

Monday, April 15, 2019

2019.04.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 8:20-22

Questions for Littles: What did Noah build in Genesis 8:20? To whom? What did he do from every kind of clean animal and bird? Who smelled a soothing aroma (Genesis 8:21)? Where did Yahweh speak? What would He never do again? Why not? What eight things does the Lord promise to continue without ceasing in Genesis 8:22?
In the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we see at least three very important things.

First, we see the greatness of our sin. Noah took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. Every. Clean. Animal. Every. Clean. Bird. That’s a lot of offering. They are clean, and the implication is clear: it’s because we are not.

As each animal dies, every member of Noah’s family is once again reminded, “I deserve to die.” As each bird dies, every member of Noah’s family is once again reminded, “I deserve to die.” As each animal burns, every member of Noah’s family is once again reminded, “I deserve to burn.” As each bird burns, every member of Noah’s family is once again reminded, “I deserve to burn.” They may have been on the ark, but they certainly didn’t deserve to be. And neither do we.

But the animals are doing more than reminding Noah and family about themselves. They are also reminding God about Himself. And that’s the second important thing we see here, the greatness of Christ’s glory. The passage tells us that Yahweh smelled a soothing aroma. How’s that? Is He really a fan of roast beef, lamb, chicken, quail, etc?

Rather, it’s because of what the animals pointed forward to. They pointed forward to the Good Shepherd who said, “As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep […] Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again”  (John 10:15-17). Therefore?!

Here, we are at the precipice of an ocean of glory so deep that we can never comprehend the bottom, let alone see it or find it. God, from all eternity—in the mutual love and fellowship of Father, Son, and Spirit—has purposed that here would be the great display of the glory of God in the Son of God: at the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus the soothing aroma. It was not roasting animals and birds that the Lord “smelled,” but His beloved Son, with whom He is well-pleased.

This helps us understand the third great thing that we see here: the amazing logic of grace. It is precisely because man is hopelessly wicked that God will undo the curse. Wait… what? How is this justice? Well, it’s justice because of Christ; and it is precisely our hopelessness and guiltiness that displays the glory of Christ, since even for us He is a sufficient and full atonement!

Finally, we see that there is a consistency and reliability restored to the creation in Genesis 8:22 that is the result of this internal conversation within God. When we see seedtime and harvest, etc., then it is not so much for earthly provision and comfort—but rather because these things are a reminder of the certainty and fullness of Christ’s atonement—that we say, “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Which of your sins do you tend to treat as small? What sacrifice does an even better job of showing how big they are than the ones in Genesis 8:20? If God treats Christ’s worthiness as greater even than our sin, what are some ways you can follow Him in that?
Suggested Songs: ARP19A “The Skies above Declare” or TPH254 “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”

Saturday, April 13, 2019

2019.04.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 8:20-22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 12, 2019

2019.04.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 11:45-57

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 11, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

2019.04.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 23

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

2019.04.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 149

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 08, 2019

2019.04.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 8:1-19

Questions for Littles: Who remembered Noah in Genesis 8:1? Whom else did God remember? What did God make to pass over the earth? What happened to the waters? What windows were stopped up in Genesis 8:2? At what day did the waters begin to decrease (Genesis 8:3)? What result did this have upon the ark (Genesis 8:4)? Where? For how many months did the water decrease continually (Genesis 8:5)? When were the tops of the mountains seen? How much later did Noah open the window of the ark (Genesis 8:6)? What did he send out in Genesis 8:7? What did it do? What did he send out in Genesis 8:8? What couldn’t it do (Genesis 8:9)? So what did it do? How many more days was it until he sent out the dove again (Genesis 8:10)? With what did it return (Genesis 8:11)? What did Noah know at that point? How many more days until Noah sent the dove out the third time (Genesis 8:12)? What didn’t it do this time? What day was it now in Genesis 8:13? What did Noah remove? What did Noah see? How much longer after that was it until the earth was dry enough to be safe (Genesis 8:14)? How did Noah know when to go (Genesis 8:15)? Whom did God command to leave the ark (Genesis 8:16)? What did He command them to bring (Genesis 8:17)? What did they do (Genesis 8:18-19)?
In the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we saw the Lord being Noah’s safety and provision, and the Lord communicating to Noah that He is his safety and provision.

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, April 06, 2019

2019.04.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 8:1-19

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 05, 2019

2019.04.07 Confession of Sin

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

2019.04.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 11:33-44

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 04, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

2019.04.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 22

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

2019.04.03 Prayer Meeting Folder

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

2109.04.07 Opening of Worship

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

2019.04.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ Revelation 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 01, 2019

2019.04.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 7:7-24

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

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

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

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