Tuesday, March 19, 2019

2019.03.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 23

Tuesday, March 19, 2019 ▫ Read Psalm 23
Questions for Littles: Who is our Shepherd (Psalm 23:1)? What shall we not do? In what does He make us to lie down (Psalm 23:2)? Beside what does the Lord lead us? What does He restore (Psalm 23:3)? In what paths does the Lord lead us? For what reason? Through what valley will we walk (Psalm 23:4)? What will we not fear? Why—who is with us? What two things of His comfort us in verse 4? What does the Lord prepare for us (Psalm 23:5)? Where? What does He do to our head? What happens to our portion of the cup of blessing? What shall goodness and steadfast love surely do (Psalm 23:6)? How many of the days of our lives will they do this? Where will we dwell/return forever? 
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin all came from Psalm 23. Many of us have memorized this Psalm from our childhood, but I wonder how many of us consider what this Psalm meant to our Lord Jesus in His childhood, and even on into His adulthood.

It’s amazing that Jesus Christ Himself needed much of the care described in this chapter. To be sure, He did not sin or stray, but He was and is fully human—like us in every way, except without sin. He would experience being hungry, thirsty, weary, tired, lonely, and attacked. But, as He grew in wisdom, a big part of that wisdom would be seeing the goodness of God everywhere and delighting in that goodness.

Would that we were like our Redeemer, beholding God’s goodness to us everywhere, in everything, all the time!

It is truly astonishing that the heart of this Psalm’s comforts was withheld from our Savior. When He looked for His Father to be with Him in the valley of the shadow of death, He cried out instead the title line from the previous Psalm, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?!” He was forsaken in the valley that we, who deserve to be forsaken there, would instead have Him with us to comfort us so that we shall not fear.

Of course, Jesus knew that it would be so, and still the gospels tells us that “the Son of man came, not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many,” and that “He set His face toward Jerusalem.”

This is because Jesus knew Himself also to be the Good Shepherd, who lays down His life for His sheep. Every one of these beautiful statements about the Shepherds loving care finds its resounding echo in the heart of our Redeemer. He is not just our pattern but our Shepherd!

He who “upholds all things by the word of His power,” is upholding all of those things with the heart of goodness and provision of the Shepherd in this Psalm. More than that, He is upholding us by His own resurrection life in us, being worked out by His own Holy Spirit who has taken us up as His dwelling.

It is no wonder that “we know that all things work together for good” for those who love God and have been called according to His purpose. But let us learn, with Psalm 23:6, to delight in His character and His presence—to delight in Him Himself—even more than in His gifts!
What valley of yours is being sweetened by God’s presence because Christ willingly went to the cross? How will you remind yourself of this? 
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH23A “The Lord’s My Shepherd”

Monday, March 18, 2019

Mark 1:1-8 "Humbled to Worship the Lord" - 2019.03.17 Morning Sermon

This sermon was a blessing. May the Spirit whom the Lord Jesus pours out on His own continue to use it to produce in us that humility He produced in John, so that He might magnify in our eyes that glory of Christ that He magnified in John's eyes.
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Zack Groff | Hopewell Associate Reformed Presbyterian

2019.03.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 1:1-8

Questions for Littles: Of what is this a beginning (Mark 1:1)? Of whose gospel, in particular, is it the beginning—what three things is He called? Where had the next couple verses been written originally (Mark 1:2)? What would the Lord send before the Christ’s face? What is the messenger doing? Whose way, specifically, was the messenger to prepare (Mark 1:3)? What two things did John come doing (Mark 1:4)? What did his baptism promise? How effective was this preaching (Mark 1:5)? How impressive was John (Mark 1:6)? Whom did he say would be far more impressive (Mark 1:7)? What baptism would this Person give to truly accomplish what John’s baptism could only point forward to (Mark 1:8)?
In the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we learn immediately what kind of writing Mark has written. It is a gospel. It is good news. And it is good news about Jesus, whose name means, “the Lord saves.” And it is good news about the Christ, which is a title that means, “anointed One.” And it is good news about the Son of God, which means that here is One who is not created by God, but rather begotten of God—One who is very God of very God… One who is God Himself.

This is good news about how the Lord God became a man that He might save us as the anointed One. Such an One about whom we need to hear such news deserves someone to announce that He is here. And that’s what the Baptizer was doing. He was preparing the way for the Savior by announcing what it was from which we need saving: our sins.

The Baptizer announced repentance, but that couldn’t take away sin. Have you ever even tried just to stop sin? We can’t. Not in this life. And not at all on our own. In repentance, we recognize sin for what it is, and determine our whole selves against it. Repentance includes feeling sorry against our sin, but it is so much more than sorry-feeling. It’s a declaration of war!

But still, there is that sin that stands against us. What’s the good news? That there is remission of sin—the canceling of sin from our account with God. And it’s good news of Jesus Christ because He doesn’t just wash us with water as a sign that this canceling of sin can happen. No, Jesus Christ washes us with His own Holy Spirit. He actually cleanses us. The Holy Spirit joins us, through faith, to Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ’s death satisfies for the guilt of our sin. Jesus Christ’s obedience earns every possible blessing for us. Jesus Christ’s status becomes ours, and we are adopted as children. Jesus Christ’s life becomes ours, and the life that we then live, we live by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us. This is the blessed work of the Holy Spirit whom He gives us!
Who is the Holy Spirit? What does He offer to do for you? Have you asked Him to do it?
Suggested Songs: ARP51A-B “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH392 “Holy Ghost, Dispel Our Sadness”

Saturday, March 16, 2019

2019.03.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 1:1-8

Questions for Littles: Of what is this a beginning (Mark 1:1)? Of whose gospel, in particular, is it the beginning—what three things is He called? Where had the next couple verses been written originally (Mark 1:2)? What would the Lord send before the Christ’s face? What is the messenger doing? Whose way, specifically, was the messenger to prepare (Mark 1:3)? What two things did John come doing (Mark 1:4)? What did his baptism promise? How effective was this preaching (Mark 1:5)? How impressive was John (Mark 1:6)? Whom did he say would be far more impressive (Mark 1:7)? What baptism would this Person give to truly accomplish what John’s baptism could only point forward to (Mark 1:8)
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, we hear the beginning of Mark’s gospel. Immediately, in Mark 1:1, he tells us that he is writing a gospel. It’s like placing a headline, or a cover page on the book that announces GOOD NEWS. So, one thing that we may want to do as we read through this book is to frequently ask ourselves, “how is this good news?”

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

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

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

Friday, March 15, 2019

2019.03.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 11:1-16

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

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

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

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

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