Each week we webcast Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, morning public worship at 11a, and p.m. singing and sermon at 2:30p (sermon at 3:30); and the Weds. Prayer Meeting at 6:30p

Saturday, May 25, 2019

2019.05.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 11:1-9

Questions for Littles: How many languages did the whole earth have (Genesis 11:1)? What were they doing together in Genesis 11:2a? What did they find in Shinar? What did they do there? What building method did they come up with in Genesis 11:3? What did they want to build (Genesis 11:4)? Where would its top be? What did they hope that this would do for them? What did they hope that this would prevent? Who went where in Genesis 11:5a? What does He observe about them in Genesis 11:6a? What idea of theirs does verse 6b say the Lord seeks to prevent? How does the Lord’s speech in Genesis 11:7 resemble the people’s speech in Genesis 11:3 and Genesis 11:4? Who wins the competition between Genesis 11:8 and Genesis 11:4? What “name” did the people end up making for themselves (Genesis 11:9, cf. Genesis 11:4)?  
Who will be ultimate, man or God? That’s the question.

Twice, they say “Come, let us” (Genesis 11:3 and Genesis 11:4). But it is the Lord’s “Come, let us” in Genesis 11:7 that succeeds.

God had said “to dust you shall return.” They decided to try to ascend to heaven. But while they can’t ascend to heaven, Yahweh “comes down” because He is everywhere.

God said to fill the earth. The people stuck together, journeyed together, dwelt together, and aimed specifically at not being “scattered abroad over the face of all the earth.” Genesis 11:8-9 twice emphasize that Yahweh “scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

God said “let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” But their making aimed not at bringing glory to God’s Name, but rather making a name for themselves.

And so God made a name for them. Babel. Commemorating not the way that they prevented themselves from being scattered across the faith of the whole earth, but instead commemorating the way that God humbled them and did exactly what they were trying to prevent.

Man makes his plans, but it is the plan of the Lord that prevails. Man cannot lift himself out of the death that he deserves. But one day, God Himself would come all the way down to be a man and do for us, as Christ, what none of us could do.

What name will we have upon us? If we aim at making a name for ourselves, we will end only with shame. But if we humble ourselves and trust in Christ alone for His glory alone, we will see that the Lord has given Himself for us, in order to put His name upon us, and glorify the name “Yahweh saves” above all other names.
What are your most important duties? What should your ultimate goal be in each of those duties? What competing goals are you tempted to have instead?
Suggested Songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song to the Lord” or TPH98A “O Sing a New Song to the Lord”

Friday, May 24, 2019

2019.05.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 12:42-50

Questions for Littles: Many of whom believed in Jesus (John 12:42)? Why didn’t they confess Him—of whom and what were they afraid? Why, really, didn’t they confess Him—what did they love more than what (John 12:43)? Who cries out in John 12:44? Whom do we believe in, when we believe in Jesus? Whom do we see, when we see Jesus (John 12:45)? Without Jesus as our light to show us the Father, in what would we abide (John 12:46)? What does Jesus not personally do during His time in the world (John 12:47)? What will judge them (John 12:48)? On what day? And Who will be the judge then? Whose Word do we hear, when we hear Jesus (John 12:49)? What do these words give (John 12:50)?
Believers grieve over our slowness and coldness to serve Christ and identify with Him. So, let us learn to beware the praise of men! This is what kept even those who believed from confessing Christ.

The biggest difficulty in preferring God’s praise over man’s is that we see men all the time, but we cannot lay our eyes upon God. Even those who had seen Jesus, heard Jesus, and believed Jesus in our passage… they cared more about what those Pharisees thought—Pharisees whom they would see all the time on the street, and by whom they couldn’t stand to be shunned.

So, Jesus cries out and says that He has come to even out the problem of perceiving men but not perceiving God. Believing in Christ is the way to believe in God. Seeing Christ is the way to see God. Hearing Christ is the way to hear God.

This is our one opportunity before we arrive at the judgment. We don’t deserve an opportunity. Without Christ, we’re in darkness. That doesn’t mean that there’s nothing we can see or know about God. Like a beautiful painting in a pitch black room, we just have no capacity for seeing Him. But He tells us in John 12:46 that He has come as a light in the world.

Now, here’s the question: how can you see Jesus? How can you have Him as your light? Look carefully at verse 46 again. “I have come as a Light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And what does He use to give this faith? Look at John 12:47, “if anyone hears My words and does not believe…”

It is the hearing that is appointed to trigger faith. It is the faith by which we have light. Just as Romans 10 says, “How can they believe Him whom they have not heard? … Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

One chance before the judgment. Pray God to give you faith through the hearing of the Word, and put yourself as often as you can under the preaching of that Word!
What opportunities do you have to hear preaching? How do you need God to use them?
Suggested songs: ARP19B “The Lord’s Most Perfect Law” or TPH172 “Speak, O Lord”

Thursday, May 23, 2019

2019.05.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 10:7-18

Questions for Littles: What does the apostle ask them in 2 Corinthians 10:7? Of what does he suggest that some of them are convinced? What should a person conclude about the apostle if he has included about himself? What could the apostle boast more about without being ashamed (2 Corinthians 10:8)? For what purpose did Jesus give the apostle that authority? What does he understand will be the (incorrect) response of some to this authority (2 Corinthians 10:9)? What are some Corinthians saying about Paul and his letters (2 Corinthians 10:10)? What does he warn them that his presence will be like when he comes (2 Corinthians 10:11)? What is the apostle NOT doing by asserting this authority (2 Corinthians 10:12)? What is the standard by which someone would have to commend himself? Whose appointment, then, is the basis for this authority that the apostle is appointing (2 Corinthians 10:13)? To whom did his authority especially apply (2 Corinthians 10:13-14)? What was the first display of this authority (end of 2 Corinthians 10:14)? With whom else does he hope to have such a relationship (2 Corinthians 10:15-16)? By whose help? Whose glory is extended by such an approach to authority and ministry (2 Corinthians 10:17)? And what does the Lord graciously do for those in such a ministry (2 Corinthians 10:18)? 
What does it mean to belong to Jesus? Is it just to feel bad about a select number of sins and warm and fuzzy about Him? That’s what it seems like among many today. The Corinthians also wanted to define what it meant to belong to Jesus.

They wanted to define it as selecting their own authorities (or, more likely, just having no authority at all—as our flesh rebelliously desires!). But the apostle said that if we are Christ’s, then we need to recognize that Christ is the One who has appointed for us particular people to oversee us (2 Corinthians 10:7-8 and 2 Corinthians 10:13-14). Not only is rejecting their authority a personal rebellion against Christ, but it is also harmful to ourselves, since the Lord Jesus has set these authorities over us “for edification and not for destruction” (2 Corinthians 10:8).

The apostle wants to make sure that they understand that he is not saying that he himself is anything great (2 Corinthians 10:12). Rather, following Jesus’s plan for how the church is led/overseen/shepherded is a necessary conclusion of believing that Jesus alone is great (2 Corinthians 10:17).

If this is the case, then we will recognize the church that we are in, and the ministry that we have in it, are assignments from God (2 Corinthians 10:13). This is the noble duty in which the apostle is inviting the Corinthians to participate in 2 Corinthians 10:15-16: “the Lord is giving you a Lord-appointed opportunity to be used by Him to bring the gospel to other regions!”

Whether to other regions, or here at home, the question is: “are you Christ’s?” And if you are Christ’s…
Are you striving to be led by those whom He has given you for that purpose? And are you laboring for the building up of any whom He has given to you to lead? And are you convinced that all the honor for any ministry belongs to Him alone? And are you eager to participate in any ministry He gives you in whatever way He allows you—even if it’s just to support others whom He is sending? 
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH187 “I Belong to Jesus”

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

2019.05.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Judges 2:6-3:6

Questions for Littles: Who dismissed the people in Judges 2:6? When did the people serve Yahweh (Judges 2:7)? Who dies in Judges 2:8? Where do they bury him (Judges 2:9)? What significant piece of information does Judges 2:10 give us about the next generation? What do these “children of Israel” do in Judges 2:11a? Whom do they serve? Whom do they forsake (Judges 2:12a)? What had Yahweh done (verse 12b)? Whom did they follow? To what did they provoke the Lord? Whom did they serve (Judges 2:13)? What was hot against Israel in Judges 2:14? So, what did the Lord do? According to Judges 2:15, what had the Lord said and sworn to do? How did Israel respond? With what beautiful word does Judges 2:16 begin? Whom did Yahweh raise up? To do what? But how did Israel respond after they were delivered (Judges 2:17)? What did Yahweh do with each judge (Judges 2:18)? For how long? For what reason? When the judge would die, what would Israel do (Judges 2:19)? What was hot against Israel in Judges 2:20? What long-lasting penalty did He pronounce against them in Judges 2:21 and Judges 2:23? What would the presence of these nations test (Judges 2:22 and Judges 3:4)? What does Judges 3:1 tell us that it is about to list? What had this new generation of Israelites not known? What ten nations are named in Judges 3:3 and Judges 3:5? What summary statement gives us the results of the test” in Judges 3:6.
This passage describes a pattern that follows through the rest of the book of Judges: Israel descends into wickedness; God gives them over to their enemies; God raises up a deliverer; when the deliverer dies, Israel descends back into their wickedness; and, so on. But this passage also gives us some important theological comments on the features of the pattern.

One is the Lord’s “hot anger” in Judges 2:11 and Judges 3:20. The Lord’s mercifully saving them and bringing them out of Egypt does not mean He has compromised His standards. And the Lord does not compromise His standards in the slightest bit when He saves us either!

Another important feature is the Lord’s faithfulness. Yahweh being “against them for calamity” in Judges 2:15 is “as Yahweh had said, and as Yahweh had sworn.” The Lord has promised to be faithful not just in covenant blessing but also in covenant curse. And, He has promised to us that if we are true believers, then whatever pain is necessary to bring us back into line, He will faithfully inflict upon us (cf. Hebrews 12:3-17).

Third, we see Yahweh’s compassion. He is “moved to pity by their groaning” (Judges 2:18). In light of the hotness of His anger, and the faithful reliability of His painful punishments for them, the tender compassion of the Lord is all the more stunning!

Fourth, we see part of His purpose for leaving things in our lives that might compete with Him for our affection and devotion. Judges 2:22 and Judges 3:4 tell us that these are opportunities for our hearts to express their allegiance. Living in a national culture or church culture in which there are religious observances that are made up by man is a test “whether they will keep the ways of Yahweh” (Judges 2:22) and “whether they would obey the commandments of Yahweh” (Judges 3:4). The failure goes all the way to Matthew 15:9 (and even the present day, retaining the name Ashtoreth/Ishtar/Eostre, Judges 2:13), where Jesus calls all worship of God vain (empty and blasphemous), when the precepts of men are observed as commandments. The Lord sometimes leaves impurity around us simply to test whether we will have His commandments be our only ultimate authority.

The repeated refrain throughout the book will be, “And there was no king in Israel, and everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” The book of Judges will demand to know of us whether we are satisfied for being saved out of crises from time to time, or whether instead we will know the Lord, and rejoice to be ruled always and only by King Jesus!
How much of you does King Jesus demand? Where could this most be improved? 
Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH1A “That Man Is Blest”

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

2019.05.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 17:16-26

Questions for Littles: Who are both “not of the world” in John 17:16? Since believers are not of the world, what does Jesus pray to have happen to them in John 17:17? What does He pray would be used to sanctify them? Who sends whom in John 17:18? Who sanctifies Himself in John 17:19? For what purpose? For whom does Jesus clarify that He is praying in John 17:20? What does He ask, specifically at the beginning of John 17:21? Who is the model for “being One”? In whom should believers be One? What effect does Jesus pray that this would have? What has Jesus given them (John 17:22a)? What, specifically, is it that the world knows and sees in John 17:23? Where does Jesus ask that we would be in John 17:24a? What does He ask that we would see (verse 24b)? What prime example of this glory does He give in verse 24c? What does Jesus call His Father in John 17:25? What does He say about the world in relation to His Father? What has Jesus declared to believers (John 17:26a)? What does He pray would be in them? Whom does He pray would be in them?
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin came from John 17:16-26. Here is a wonderful, holy eavesdropping upon Christ praying for believers. He is about to go to the cross, and He is praying for the very things for which He is about to die. “I sanctify Myself so that…” What does He ask?

He asks that we would be sanctified—that we would have holier thoughts, feelings, choices, words, and actions. Why? So that we would be in our lives more and more the children of heaven, from which we have had a new birth. The believer is “not of the world.” The self that was is gone. The new one is born from above.

He asks that we would sit under preaching. “I have declared Your name to them” (John 17:26) is the same language as Hebrews 2:12. This is what He uses to sanctify us (cf. Ephesians 5:25). Jesus literally died for, and prays for, that we would sit under preaching on the Lord’s Days. And can we so easily take a pass on it?

He asks that we would be one. One in not being of the world—this is no request for careless inclusiveness! One in the truth that we hear preached—this is no request for doctrinal flexibility! One in the Father and the Son—this is no request for politely ignoring errors about Christ or personal identities in which He does not have the chief place. And it is precisely this kind of unity, that is almost the opposite of what so many today call unity, that Jesus prays would have an evangelistic effect. May they be so united in being so radically different from the world, “that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:21)!

The truly uniting factor in the church can be seen in John 17:22: the glory of Christ. Those who see and value the glory of Christ above all else will not be lax about holiness or truth or hearing preaching or devoted living. Christ’s glory is simply too reality-shaping for those things. Rather, as believers more and more realize the glory of Christ—that He indeed is the living God, in an eternal Unity of infinite love with the Father and the Spirit (John 17:24)—the more we will realize that the love with which we are loved is the very infinite love that God has in Himself and for Himself (John 17:23)!!

When believers are careless about holiness, truth, hearing preaching, or devoted living, they willingly relinquish what Jesus died for and prays for: fuller knowledge of Christ’s glory and infinite, divine love.

After all, the Father is a righteous Father, which means that the world cannot possibly know Him (John 17:25). When Jesus makes Himself and His Father known to a believer, then the love of Jesus and even Jesus Himself come to be in that believer, and the believer comes to treasure righteousness and his righteous Father (John 17:26).
If we are to be united in the way that Jesus prays in this passage, then what things need to become the most important things in your life? How can that happen?
Suggested songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken to My Lord” or TPH270 “At the Name of Jesus”

Monday, May 20, 2019

2019.05.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 10

Questions for Littles: From whom does Genesis 10:1 begin to tell the story of what was begotten from them? Of what major event does this verse remind us? Whose offspring does Genesis 10:2-5 tell us about? How does Genesis 10:5 summarize who these descendants ended up being? What four different ways of categorizing them does verse 5 name? Whose offspring does Genesis 10:6-20 tell us about? What names and places do you recognize from these verses? What do you know about these names and places? What does Genesis 10:8 tell us about Nimrod? Before whose face did Nimrod display his mightiness (Genesis 10:9)? Do you think that God was impressed? What was the very first city of Nimrod’s kingdom (Genesis 10:10)? On which son of Ham does Genesis 10:15 focus? What did we learn about him in Genesis 9:24? What four different ways of categorizing Ham’s descendants does Genesis 10:20 name? Whose offspring does Genesis 10:21-31 tell us about? Of all of whose children is he the father (Genesis 10:21)? What happened in Peleg’s days? What four different ways of categorizing Shem’s descendants does Genesis 10:31 name? What three ways of categorizing Noah’s descendants does Genesis 10:32 mention? What came from them, how, and when?  
“Now this is the genealogy…” this phrase appears several times in the book of Genesis. It is related to the word for “beget” and the word for “child.” Literally, it means “this is what came from.” What came from the sons of Noah? Everyone. All of us.

You’ve probably heard of humanity referred to as all one family, with God as our Father. Well, that’s partly right. We are all one family, one blood (cf. Acts 17:26). But fallen humanity has rejected God as Father and chosen the devil instead (cf. John 8:42-44!!). So, while it is true that we are all family in Noah, this actually reminds us that we need a way back into the family of God. The way through Adam is closed by sin and wrath. The only way is Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God, who became a Man to be the last Adam (cf. Acts 17:27-31).

On the one hand, we must reject all ethnic racialism—whether hardening our hearts (or words or actions) against someone on the basis of ethnicity, or blaming others for our problems based upon our ethnicity and theirs.

On the other hand, we must confess that our truest brothers and sisters aren’t the ones who have the same blood in our veins. They are the ones who rest upon the same blood for forgiveness of sins. The ones who call God, “abba” by the same indwelling Spirit. These are family in an infinitely greater way than unbelievers can ever be. And Scripture tells us that this is ultimately not just estrangement but enmity. We know that we are to love our enemies. But, as they describe that our views of everything are completely incompatible with theirs, let us not expect them to conclude that they must love us!

You can see this in Nimrod, especially. Babel and Assyria are the hall of fame of the eventual enemies of God’s people (there are a bunch more in that list). And Nimrod—well, in front of Yahweh’s face, Nimrod was all about his impressiveness, not God’s. These two are always at odds. If we are full of ourselves, we will not be desperate to depend upon Christ and be full of Him. Nimrod. Pharisees. 21st century Americans. Being full of self gets in the way of trusting in Christ. And Christ is the great divider of humanity.

Everyone who reads Genesis 10 has ancestors in the text. Think about them. What did each of those men pass on to his children? What did their children pass on? We pass on our blood. But, as we have seen in this passage, there is something much more important to pass on: faith in Jesus Christ. Only the Spirit can give it, but if we are asking with words for the Spirit to give our children faith, let us also be asking by employing the means that the Spirit has appointed through which He gives that faith: Word, sacrament, and prayer!
Who are in your (extended) blood family? What are the most important ways to love them? Who are your closer family? What are the most important ways in which they are your family?
Suggested Songs: ARP72B “Nomads Will Bow” or TPH72A “Now Blessed Be the Lord”