Other sermon/teaching series
: [1Corinthians] [Biblical Shepherding] [Hebrews (2017-18)] [Hopewell 101] [The Lord's Day] [Lord's Supper Table Lessions] [Family Worship Teaching Times]

Monday, July 16, 2018

2018.07.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 13:18-19

Questions for Littles: What does the apostle want them to do for him (v18)? Of what is he confident? What does he desire to do in all things? But why does he especially urge them to pray for him (v19)?  
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we learn the necessity and power of prayer.

First, we find the necessity of prayer in the command. “Pray for us,” says the apostle. You remember those who are prisoners (v3). You remember those who spoke the Word of God to you (v7). Remember us, too, in prayer.

This is the greatest service that we ever may do to those who are nearest to us: to go to the throne of heaven, armed with the blood and righteousness of Christ, and ask to have done all of the holy will of our most merciful and gracious God.

And even for those most distant, we may yet perform this greatest service!

Second, we find the necessity of prayer by considering him who asks for it in this text: the eminent apostle himself. Now, if the apostle needed prayer, how much do you need it? How much do those whom you care about it need it? How much do those whom God brings to mind need it?

In particular, the apostle needed prayer for his release and subsequent restoration to them. For those whom God places in positions where they come under the attack of the enemies of Christ, He calls us to the service of prayer!

Because God commands it, we do not ask “what good does it do” by way of challenge or rebellion. Rather, assuming that God commands us to do that which is good, we genuinely wonder: what does prayer accomplish? If all of God’s works are known to Him from the foundation of the world, does prayer change anything?

And the answer in this passage is: it absolutely does! The apostle believes that he and his companions have a good case to make before the judge. They have a good conscience, which is to say that they cannot think of a true charge against them. This is a strong plea both with the human judge, and with the divine Father who would give whatever strokes of discipline were necessary to a wayward child.

The apostle is an example to us in this: remember that he is speaking the Word of God to you, and follow the faith that has produced his good conscience, just as you follow the faith of your leaders, whose conduct was the fruit of faith and love in Christ. Let us follow the apostle in desiring to live honorably and in maintaining a good conscience.

But, the apostle now urges his readers to pray. Why? So that he may be released to them sooner. What? Can this eminent apostle really believe that if the readers do not pray, it will be longer; but, if the readers do pray, the apostle’s release will be sooner? That is exactly what he says!

Yes, known to God are all His works from the foundation of the world. And among those works are commanding His people to prayer, and moving His people to prayer, and sustaining His people in prayer. Prayer doesn’t change His plan, but it does change our circumstances, because He who rules over those circumstances has revealed Himself as the God who graciously hears and answers prayer! Therefore, prayer is an exceedingly powerful action, for it moves the hand of Almighty God!
For whom ought you especially to be praying? What might God be planning to do through you?
Suggested Songs: ARP4 “Answer When I Call” or TPH518 “Come, My Soul, with Every Care”

Saturday, July 14, 2018

2018.07.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 13:13-17

Questions for Littles: Where does v13 say to go to find Jesus? What do we bear there? What don’t we seek here (v14)? What do we seek? What kind of “sacrifices” should we offer in our worship then (v15)? And what else are we to offer as “sacrifices” in addition to worship (v16)? In addition to remembering and imitating our leaders (from v7), what two things does v17 instruct us to do with them? For what are they watching out? Who must give account? What difference can we make in the manner in which they give account?
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we were reminded that when Jesus is the substance of our worship, unbelievers find it rather unimpressive. The Jews had their very visible, impressive temple. Even the apostles had been impressed with the buildings, and even their stones.

But we don’t have a city. We don’t have great buildings, made out of great stones, to show off to unbelievers. What we have is something yet to come. And the unbeliever, who does not have that biblical faith that treats the future as sure, responds to what we have by calling it, “Pie in the sky, bye and bye.”

Let the unbeliever despise it. Let him reproach it. It is the reproach of Christ, and we rejoice to have it fall upon us (cf. Rom 15:3).

We also don’t have very humanly impressive sacrifices. What sacrifices do we have to offer? In worship, we offer the sacrifice of the sound of songs coming off of our lips, praising and thanking God. Beyond the worship services, we have the doing of things that benefit others, and the sharing of ourselves and our things (the word in v16 is koinonia: fellowship, sharing).

Not impressive to man, but pleasing to God. And the leaders that the Lord has given us to speak the Word to us also watch out for our souls. It is apparent that one of the things that they do is persuade us of what we need to do, because we are to obey and yield to them. Both verbs occur primarily in situations where one is reasoning, and the other yields (submits) and does (obeys) what the one is reasoning with him to do.

So, Christ has entrusted the care of our souls to men on earth. In order to help us live lives that please Him, He has given us men who not only preach and teach in public worship, but have an active ministry of urging and encouraging us to do particular things—even and especially things that we are at first resistant to, but which here He commands us to give in to do.

That requires some humility from us doesn’t it? It requires trusting and obeying Jesus, whose Word this is—and from whose Word they are to be reasoning with us. And it requires our acknowledging that one way or another, this is Jesus’s plan for the care of our souls. We can either act in a way that their ruling over us is a grief to them or a joy to them—and the Lord puts it quite frankly to us: being a resistant pain hurts you too.
What kind of worshiping and living does God like? Who are your leaders who help you?
Suggested Songs: ARP131 “My Heart Is Not Exalted, Lord” or TPH131B “Not Haughty Is My Heart”