Tuesday, December 12, 2017

2017.12.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 1:68-79

Questions for Littles: Who was singing this song (v67) to whom (v63)? What was the Lord God of Israel doing at this time (68)? What was He raising up (v69)? How long has God been speaking through His prophets (70)? What has God been promising since the world began (v71)? What was promised to the fathers (v72)? According to His promise, why was He saving us from our enemies (v74)? What does v75 present as the two main parts of serving God? What did Zacharias tell his baby son that he would be called, in v76? Before whom would John go (v76b)? What would he be preaching that Jesus will do when He comes (v77)? What would the sunrise from God (v78) do for those who are in darkness and death (v79)?
This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation, and Confession of sin came from Luke 1:68-79. These amazing statements are made to John the Baptizer by his daddy when he is just 8 days old and being circumcised.

From the beginning, God has been a speaking, promising, saving God. The promise of salvation from the hand of that great enemy who hates us first came in Genesis 3:15, and this passage tells us that there were no ages before that. Throughout the ages, God has been this covenant-making, covenant-keeping God!

And His purpose for us is to respond in love and gratitude. The salvation that v71 promises has a purpose, about which v74 tells us: that we might serve the Lord God without fear. That we might know that He is for us, that He has loved us, that He has saved us… and therefore we would not be afraid of anything else, but live our entire lives as service to Him!

What does that service look like? What great feats of spiritual strength, or mission field victories, or mind-boggling sacrifices make up this service?! Simply this: to live a holy and righteous life before Him, day in and day out (v75). That’s not particularly glamorous before the eyes of men, but it is glorious before the eyes of God!

First things first, though. We don’t even deserve to be able to live lives like that! That’s John’s big announcement: “I baptize you with water that says that you need cleansing from sin, but Jesus is going to come and baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is going to give you real spiritual life to believe in Him, and He is going to suffer the fire of Hell on the cross so that when you believe into Him, you will know that your sins were cleansed there! At the cross!

That is where the sunrise of life bursts through our darkness and death: God, in His tender mercy, has given Himself to be punished for our sin and to be our life. Hallelujah!
What are your daily activities? What does it look like for that to be done “in service to God”? Why don’t you deserve to be able to do that? What has Jesus done about what you deserve? 
Suggested songs: ARP191 “I Love the Lord” or HB310 “Take My Life, and Let It Be”

Monday, December 11, 2017

2017.12.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 5:10-14

Read Hebrews 5:10-14
Questions for Littles: According to v11, why would it be hard to explain to them about Melchizedek? What do they need someone to teach them again (v12)? What kind of food do they need? What does v13 say about someone who is unskilled in the word of righteousness? What is a mature Christian trained by exercise to distinguish about his food (v14)? 
In the Scripture for the sermon this week, the preacher/writer to the Hebrews was frustrated. He wanted to go onto his next sermon point, but he won’t be able to until the beginning of chapter 7. Why can’t he? Because his audience “have become dull of hearing” and “have come to need milk and not solid food.”

This is a stern warning to us: although Christ will surely finish His sanctifying work in believers, sometimes their spiritual “growth” goes in the wrong direction. Those who have been ready hearers can become dull hearers. Those who were ready for solid food can fall out of practice, lose their skill, and need to return to milk.

So, how do we watch against falling into the same predicament? First, we follow the instruction already given to us from the middle of chapter 3 to the middle of chapter 4: come to Lord’s Day preaching with soft hearts. Respond to the Word. Let it cut you. Let it expose you. And then make heart and life adjustments, since this is Jesus’ plan for bringing you at last safely into His rest. Do not be “dull of hearing” (v11).

Second, take an interest in growth not only for yourself but for others in the church. v12 says that they should all have been learning with the purpose of helping others learn too. Instead, they’re in a position where they need to be takers, rather than givers.

Third, develop skill in handling the Word in a way that leads to righteousness. This is the “adjustments” idea that we were talking about above. If the Word is being handled properly, we will be directed to trust in Jesus for our righteous standing and to obey Jesus for our righteous living.

This skill comes by practice, by exercise (v14). By recognizing whom the teaching is pointing us to trust in. If it’s pointing us to trust in Christ it’s good; if it’s leading us to trust in ourselves, it’s evil. If it leads us to obey Christ’s commandments, it’s good; if it leads us to obey our own impulses, it’s evil.

Dear Christian, whether to preaching or to personal Bible study, let us come with ready hearts, for both our own good and others’; and, let us seek to be led to trust in Christ alone, and to live by obedience to Christ’s commands!
What specific activities in your life does this passage apply to? How does it tell you to do them?
Suggested Songs: ARP19B “The Lord’s Most Perfect Law” or HB255 “O Come, My People, to My Law”

Saturday, December 9, 2017

2017.12.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 5:6-10

Questions for Littles: How long is Christ’s appointment as high priest (v6)? What did Jesus offer up in the days of His flesh (v7)? With what (in what manner) did Jesus offer up prayers and supplications? To whom did Jesus pray? Why was Jesus heard? What did Jesus learn most of all by this suffering (v8)? What does v9 say that He perfectly become? Who had designated Him for this (v10)?
Jesus is fully God and fully man. In v5, we were reminded that as God, Jesus is the eternally, begotten Son. It belongs to the Father to beget the Son, and it belongs to the Son to be begotten. So, from all eternity, Jesus is God’s only begotten Son, even with reference to His divine nature. Of course, when the Lord Jesus adds also a human nature to Himself He does not stop being the eternal Son.

So, when God appoints Himself, His own Son, to be our priest, the Son as to take on flesh. That’s extraordinary. God never changes. God cannot change. So what does the second Person of the Trinity do? He enters time. He adds flesh to Himself. He brings to pass in history this new era called “the days of His flesh.” It is that era that we refer to as anno domini—year of our Lord. And those years continue even now. That’s why we refer to this year as 2017 a.d.

We see in this passage that Jesus adds to Himself not only a human body, but also a human soul. Yes, Jesus sinlessly thinks and sinlessly decides and sinlessly desires, but He does all of these things humanly. So, Jesus has always had, and still has, has His divine mind and will, which never changes. But, Jesus now also has His human mind and will, with which He has never sinned, but in which He grew. He grew in wisdom. He grew in understanding Scripture. He grew in applying Scripture.

This also means that Jesus is subject to emotion. As a man, He feels pain and grief and need. He feels comfort and joy and thankfulness. And He does so sinlessly which means, therefore, that in His time of need, He offered up prayers and supplications. The most intense example of this was in the garden, when He was in pain over the idea of the cross.

Jesus prayed to the only One who could spare Him of the cross if He willed, and could sustain Him on the cross if necessary, and could bring the cross to an end when it had accomplished its purpose.

A perfect High Priest would have to be obedient. But in His divine nature, Jesus couldn’t ever be obedient, because there is only one will in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Son became a man so that He could suffer, so that He could pray, so that He could submit Himself. And He was heard—not just because He is the eternal Son, but also because of His godly reverence, His living in wonder at and worship of the Lord.

His ultimate obedience was what happened as a result of His prayer in Gethsemane: having entrusted Himself to God, He also submitted Himself to God. “Not My will but Thine be done.” What was God’s will? That our perfect Priest would be our perfect Sacrifice, who would pray for us forever on the basis of that sacrifice. If we entrust ourselves to Jesus, and become those who submit ourselves to Jesus, He is for us the author of salvation not just from every earthly trouble and time of need—but eternally!
When you feel that you are too bad for God to hear your prayers, what hope do you have?
Suggested Songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken…” or HB368 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

Friday, December 8, 2017

2017.12.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 6:1-13

Questions for Littles: Whose town did Jesus come to in v1? Who followed Him? What did He do on the Sabbath (v2)? What did the hearers ask about His teaching? What did they ask about His mighty works? What does v3 say they asked? What does v3 give as the last word about their response to Jesus? What is Jesus’ explanation for why they did not honor Him (v4)? What could Jesus not do there, according to v5? What did Jesus marvel at in v6? Where did He go instead? Whom did Jesus call to Himself in v7? What did He give them? What did He command them to take with them in v8? Where were they to stay when they went to a place (v10)? What two kinds of people were they to shake the dust off their feet against (v11)? How would it turn out for those people? What did the disciples preach (v12)? What did they do (v13)? 
In the Gospel reading this week, we were reminded again that being around Jesus’ life-giving teaching and life-changing power is a dangerous thing for the hard hearted. We have seen this several times recently in both Hebrews 3 and Mark 2-4. When in God’s Providence, He brings us across the same thing in several places (Remember also the Sabbath in Gen 2, Heb 4, and Mark 2-3), we would do well to take it to heart!

What we see happen in this particular passage is that familiarity breeds contempt. There is a danger in growing up around Jesus. “Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Sion? And are not His sisters here with us?” Jesus’ addition in v4 of “relatives… own house” tells us who was leading this Nazareth gossip!

Can you imagine having known a man, the eldest Son of a godly family, who Himself had never sinned even once—no sin of omission, and no proper loving service to family or neighbor left unattended to? Their knowledge of Jesus condemns them more, not less!

Well, dear Christian, are we so accustomed now to the goodness of Jesus that we put rather little stock in His Word or power? Can we listen to sermons or read passages that lay us bare, think to ourselves “wow, that’s some teaching!,” and then proceed to think and live exactly as we had previously done? Have we grown so accustomed to His daily treating us in perfect love that when we hear about His deeds of power, we yawn or even disbelieve?

Notice also two reasons why people put themselves in a worse spot than Sodomites and Gomorrahns will be at the judgment (!!!!!). One is that they are unwilling to receive the Lord’s servants. This might be a case of being unwilling to be associated with the Lord’s oddball people; and there is certainly more than enough of that in our churches today. How many people want to be associated with the oddballs in the church?

It might also be a case of not wanting to give resources. Receiving someone in an hospitable culture meant not just providing sustenance but rolling out the red carpet. Many people refuse to come to Christ (and join His church) because they simply want to keep their resources (especially money and time) to themselves.

The second reason that v11 says people put themselves under condemnation is that they do not wish to hear what Jesus’ messengers have to say. “You should repent” (v12) has never been a popular message. It’s so negative and judgmental. How do I respond to being told to repent? Let me be careful about that one—it might just land me in a deeper part of Hell than the murderous perverts at Lot’s door that night!
Of which are you most in danger: being unimpressed with Jesus, refusing to be generous with Him, or responding negatively to being told to repent of your particular sins?
Suggested songs: ARP32A “What Blessedness” or HB281 “How Blest Is He Whose Trespass”

Thursday, December 7, 2017

2017.12.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 6:12-19

Questions for Littles: What are we not to allow sin to do (v12)? What is the first step in denying sin (13a)? To whom are we instead to present ourselves—and every little part of who we are (13b)? Why are we able to succeed against sin (v14)? If we take having grace as our master (v15) as an excuse for sinning, then who is our real master (v16)? What is the way that God has delivered us from slavery to sin (v17)? What does freedom from sin look like (v18)? What must we do with every part of whom we are?
In this week’s Epistle reading, Scripture went hard after one of the worst ways that people abuse the truth about God’s saving sinners by grace. How can we actually think that freedom means doing whatever we feel like doing?

That’s called obeying desires, allowing sin to reign in our mortal body (v12).

So, how do we stop it? When we are fighting against sin, it feels like this giant, ugly monster  (which it is) that we can take down by some great heroic act. But that’s not what our passage describes. Our passage describes our battle against sin not only in one big picture, but also in a multitude of little ones.

Every word. Every action. Every moment of time. Everything that we do is an offering, a service either to sin or to the Lord. There’s no neutral ground.

What does the life of freedom look like? It is a life of cheerful and willing obedience. v17 calls it obeying from the heart. It is also a life of theological obedience. That same verse reminds us that we obey “a form of doctrine that has been committed unto us.”

The life of freedom is also a life of slavery. That sounds counter-intuitive. Would it help if we called it a life of “devotion”? That is, ultimately, what v19 says. Slavery to righteousness is a slavery that is for holiness—devotion, consecration, being set apart to the Lord.

It is so complete, wholehearted, and full that the Scripture here calls it slavery. One cannot have two masters. So slavery means that every part of who we are, and every part of what we do, belong to the Lord so much that we refuse to belong to anyone or anything else—least of all ourselves.

Yes, it sounds bad to call ourselves “slaves” to the Lord, but that’s why the Holy Spirit calls it “speaking in a human way” in v19. Slavery may be distasteful, but it’s really the best way to understand how completely we are to belong to the Lord. Let us give ourselves to Him!
In what parts of your life could you be more intentionally offering yourself as a slave to God for righteousness? What would it look like for you to do that?
Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or HB310 “Take My Life and Let It Be”

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

2017.12.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 8:1-19

Questions for Littles: Whom did God remember in v1? How did God make the waters start receding? What did God now keep it from doing (v2)? What happened 5 months, to the day, after Noah’s family got onto the ark (v4)? How long did it take for the tops of the mountains to be seen again (v5)? What month and day is it in v6-7, when he sends the raven out? What does he send out in v8? What happens with it (v9)? What happens the second time he sends the dove (v10-11)? And the third (v12)? How long has it been in v13? What does Noah see, 10½ months after the rain started, 9 months after the rain stopped, 5½ months after the ark came to rest (end of v13)? How many more weeks pass until v14? What was Noah waiting for (v15)? Who had survived the flood (v16-19)?
In this week’s Old Testament reading, we spend a lot of time on a boat.

The text says that God remembered Noah, 40 days in, but that might have seemed like news to Noah. From when the rain stops to the time when the ark comes to rest, it’s almost four months. Four months with all those animals, doing all those chores, the entire world wiped away beneath them, all of the uncertainty that would face them when they got off the boat.

If they got off the boat.

From the time that the boat came to rest, to the time that he saw the ground dry, it was even longer than it had been from the time the rain started to the time it came to rest. And even then it would be another eight weeks—almost two full months—before he could get off the boat.

Let that sink in. After almost a year on the ark, Noah saw the ground dry, and he didn’t get off the boat. He trusted in the Lord enough, and was humbled enough before the power and holiness of God, to wait until God told him to get off the boat.

This was a great part of the Lord’s salvation. Yes, God preserved the lives of Noah, his wife, his sons, his sons’ wives, and all of the kinds of creatures on the planet! But, He also continued sustaining the faith of Noah, grew him in patience and trust, through a trial the like of which we can hardly imagine.

Dear believer, consider what the Lord might bring you through to save you and grow you!
What is the most difficult trial you have ever endured? What was/is God doing through it?
Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge” or HB112 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

2017.12.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 2:1-11

Questions for Littles: How (v2) do we respond to God’s great goodness to us in the gospel (v1)?  How should nothing be done (v3)? How should each view others? If we esteem others better than ourselves, for whose interests should we look out (v4)? Whose mindset was like that (v5)? Who is in the form of God (v6)? What was not robbery for Christ Jesus? What form did He take (v7)? What likeness? How low did Jesus humble Himself (v8)? Who exalted Him (v9)? What name did He give Him? Which knees will bow at the name of Jesus (v10)? What will every tongue confess (v11)? To whose glory?
This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation, and Confession of sin came from Philippians 2:1-11. We’ve been learning about Christ’s humiliating Himself for our sakes. Becoming a man. Enduring weakness. Suffering trials.

And, of course, the greatest was submitting Himself to death… particularly death on a cross.

Our passage from Philippians points out something shocking about His doing this. When Jesus gave Himself for us, He was treating us as if we are as important as He is. He was attending not only to His own interests but also to ours.

We have two required responses.

The first way to respond to how Christ humbled Himself for us is to humble ourselves. Not just a little, but completely. Overlooking offenses, backing out of rivalries, treating everyone as better and more important than ourselves.

Of course, there are some people with whom that is easier than with others. If we’re imitating Christ, and examining ourselves, it’s the hardest people that we have to focus upon. With whom are we having difficulty? Nursing an offense? In a rivalry? Those who are sinning against us (as we have done to Him!) are the ones with whom we must most imitate Christ.

The second way to respond, the eternal way, is to worship. Every mention of His Name should be precious to us. We shouldn’t be able to tolerate any misuse of His Name. It is the Name that should always make our knees to bend, always make our tongue confess that He who gave Himself for us is Lord.

Finally, let us consider that it is not only the Son who has given all. God the Father, for our poor sakes, has given the humiliation and death of His beloved Son, with whom He is pleased!
With whom do you most need to humble yourself? How could you better honor Jesus’ name?
Suggested songs: ARP22A “My God, My God” or HB143 “At the Name of Jesus”

Monday, December 4, 2017

2017.12.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 5:1-5

Questions for Littles: From among whom is a high priest taken (v1)? For whom are they appointed? To whom do they relate upon man’s behalf? What do they offer for sins? Upon whom can a high priest have compassion (v2)? Why is he able to do so? For whom is he required to offer sacrifice for sins (v3)? Who can take this honor for himself (v4)? Who called Aaron to be a high priest? Who appointed Christ to be High Priest (v5)? What did He say to Christ in v5?
In the Scripture for the sermon this week, we were reminded that every high priest has to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He ministers on behalf of a sinful people before a holy, holy, holy God!

This requires two things: first, he has to be appointed by God; second, he has to be identified with our sins.

A high priest must be appointed by God. A man cannot simply demand that the perfectly just and holy God receive his ministry. The Lord is not obligated to provide or accept any sacrifice for our sin. The Lord is not obligated to provide or accept any priest to offer that sacrifice. So, the very existence of high priests is evidence of the great love of God—the perfectly just and perfectly holy God—to sinners! And, the fact that He has given us God the Son to be our high priest is evidence not merely of great love, but infinite, everlasting love!

A high priest must also be identified with our sins. As he who was appointed by God offers sacrifices that were appointed by God, the justice and wrath of God fall upon a substitute instead of us. The problem for sinful high priests is that this can never satisfy. Even their offering needs atonement. The advantage is that they are able to be gentle and merciful, because they are in the same boat as their people.

Enter the Lord Jesus Christ. He identified with us willingly. At the beginning of His ministry, John the Baptizer knew that this made no sense, but our Redeemer insisted upon it (cf. Mat 3:11-17). And on the night that He was betrayed, our Lord identified Himself with His people as He instituted the Supper, and then spent a significant part of the evening praying on their behalf as those who are joined to Him (cf. John 17).

But while those moments were great displays of the intentionality of our Redeemer in identifying with us, they were not the height of His identifying with us. That took place upon the cross, where our Lord experienced the guilt and shame of sin, together with all of God’s hatred against it. This was exactly what He had pleaded to be spared from the previous night in the garden!

How much is Jesus able to sympathize with us? In a very real sense, even more than we can sympathize with ourselves. He has endured the sinfulness of those who believe in Him in a way that—precisely because of His sacrifice—we never will! God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him!
How does it help either to know God’s love in making Jesus our Priest, or to know Christ’s sympathy?
Suggested Songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or HB143 “At the Name of Jesus”

Saturday, December 2, 2017

2017.12.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 4:14-16

Questions for Littles: Who is our great High Priest (v14)? Through what has He passed? To what, then, should we hold fast? What do we not have, according to v15? 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 (v16)? 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? 
In the Scripture for the sermon this week, we learned 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 (v14), 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 HB385 “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”

Friday, December 1, 2017

2017.12.03 Worship Assembly Information

It's Friday! Just two more days to get ready for the holy, called assembly of the church on God's holy day!
  • Sermon text: Hebrews 5:1-10 (https://goo.gl/rYFzk9)
  • Songs: As with Gladness Men of Old (Phil 2:1-11, https://goo.gl/s2Siyy) · Under His Wings (Psalm 91, https://goo.gl/ZWtQat) · Crown Him with Many Crowns (Heb 5:1-10, https://goo.gl/cvtzWT)
  • Children’s Catechism: Q. 46. Did our Lord Jesus Christ ever commit the least sin? A. No; he was holy, harmless, and undefiled.
  • Shorter Catechism: Q. 16. Did all mankind fall in Adam's first transgression? A. The covenant being made with Adam, not only for himself, but for his posterity; all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him, in his first transgression.

Worship Folder

2017.12.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 5:21-43

Questions for Littles: When Jesus crossed back to the Jewish side of the lake, who gathered to him (v21)? Who fell at his feet in v22? What did he ask Jesus to do in v23? Where did Jesus go in v24? Who went with Him? For how long had the woman in v25 had a flow of blood? How had she tried to get better (26)? What did she try now (27)? How quickly was she healed when she touched Jesus (28-29)? What did Jesus ask (30)? Why did the disciples think this was a silly question (31)? How did the woman respond (33)? What does Jesus call her (34)? What has happened during this time (35)? What did Jesus say to the synagogue ruler in v36? Whom did He bring with Him now in v37? What does He say about the girl in v39? By the end of v40, who is there? What does he call the daughter in v41? How old was she (42)? How do they respond? What two things does He command them in v43?
In the Gospel reading this week, we find two daughters. The Holy Spirit gives us the little girl’s age and the length of the woman’s suffering so that we will connect the two.

Other than that, the two seem to have little in common. The woman is by herself. She is out of resources. No one seems to care about her. The little girl has parents. Her father is the synagogue ruler. She has her own crowd of people weeping and wailing for her.

But our Savior brings the invisible woman out into the light. He who is full of the Spirit, and knows so much about so many—did He not know who had been healed? Of course He does, but He wants everyone else to know. He wants everyone else to see her with Him. He wants everyone else to hear Him call her daughter.

Then, there’s the opposite in the house. He only takes three of the disciples. He tells the truth that the girl is sleeping (her soul has not departed but is waiting by her body to obey Christ’s command). When people mock, He takes it as an opportunity to retain only Jairus and Mrs. Jairus. He’s not interested in provoking the mob to try to enthrone Him as king. Although He had called the ‘invisible’ woman “daughter,” he calls the little girl “little girl.”

Jesus hid from everyone else what we have an easier time remembering: that He is infinitely glorious! But He put on display what we have a more difficult time accepting: that He is wondrously merciful. To Him, there are no invisible women. To Him, that woman is considered with all the tenderness of a daughter.

And so are you, dear Christian. You may have no one else. You may have nothing else. You may have tried everything. The Lord Jesus can heal you and cares for you as for a daughter!
In what current situation do you most need to remember Christ’s power and tender mercy?
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or HB130 “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds”

Thursday, November 30, 2017

2017.11.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 6:1-11

Questions for Littles: Why do some say that we should continue in sin (v1)? Why shouldn’t we live in sin any longer (v2)? Into whom were we baptized (3a)? Into what were we baptized (3b)? What happened to us in Christ’s death (v4)? What do we walk in, as a result of Christ’s resurrection (4b)? In the likeness of what have we been united together with Christ (v5)? What does Christ’s death keep us from being slaves of (v6)? How are we freed from sin (v7)? If we have died with Christ, what else will we do with Him (v8)? What can’t Christ do, now that He has been raised from the dead (v9)? Which of Christ’s works in v10 happened just once for all time? Which of Christ’s works in v10 happen continuously forever? How should we think of ourselves in relation to sin (11a)? How should we think of ourselves toward God in Christ Jesus our Lord (11b)?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we learn one of the primary things that Baptism is supposed to teach us about. Our union with Christ.

Everyone whom the Lord adds to the church receives the sign of water baptism. And just like with circumcision (remember chapter 2?), the outward sign of baptism is a loud reminder of how urgently we must have the inward spiritual reality.

And what is that spiritual reality? Jesus Christ. We receive water baptism when we are being admitted into the visible church. That’s one of the reason that our children, who are in the church, must receive it.

But, what baptism goes with our admittance into the eternal, currently invisible, assembly of all of those who are genuinely saved? Into what are they baptized? v3 tells us most clearly: we are baptized into Christ! We are joined to Jesus Christ by believing into Him!

He is the Lamb with whom we are united. His is the blood that is sprinkled upon us. His is the cleansing power that washes us clean. When we are baptized into Christ, His death becomes our death.

But Christ has done something glorious that those other lambs could never do: He has risen from the dead. Believing into Him joins us not just into His death that cleanses us from sin, but also into His resurrection. Sin can never be our master again. Instead, being joined to Jesus means that for the first time in our “lives” we are made alive unto God in Jesus Christ!

This is what it means to have been born again by Jesus’ life: to be spiritually alive for the very first time! If you believe in Jesus, you can kill sin now! You can obey God now! Do it!
What sins can you (and should you) be killing by the life of Jesus in you? What service of obedience are you focused upon offering unto God by the resurrection life of Jesus in you?
Suggested songs: ARP51B “From My Sins, O Hide Your Face,” or HB310 “Take My Life, and Let It Be”

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

2017.11.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 7:11-24

Questions for Littles: In what year, month, and day of Noah’s life did the flood come (v11)? How long was the rain on the earth (v12)? How long had Noah and his family been on the ark (v13)? What else came with them (v14-15)? Who shut them in (v16)? How long did the waters increase (v17)? How high did the waters rise (v17-20)? What happened to all flesh and breathing creatures (v21-22)? Who did it (v23)? Who remained alive? How long was it before the water level started to decrease (v24)? 
In this week’s Old Testament reading, the flood itself finally came.

One sad reality of the days in which we live is that there are those, even who call themselves Reformed, who teach that the earth is billions of years old, that humans never lived hundreds of years, and that the flood either didn’t happen at all or that it was just a local flood.

These lies attack the power and goodness of God in the creation, and the justice and wrath of God in the flood: the very things for which we were praising the Lord yesterday in Psalm 104. When we come to this passage, we find just how hard someone has to work to reject the clear meaning of Scripture to arrive at such positions.

Look at the dating method in v11. The six hundredth year of Noah’s life, the second month, the seventeenth day of the month. It’s very specific. It doesn’t leave room for denying the ages of the fathers before the flood. It doesn’t leave room for holes in the length of time covered by the genealogy. It screams that the flood is an historical event, that it began on a particular day in history!

As for the flood being local—exactly how does it stay local and also ascend 15 cubits above the highest hills and cover all the mountains? Keeping the water from spilling over would be quite the trick!

But it’s not just the truth about God’s glorious attributes that the lie-spreaders hide from our view. It’s also the greatness of our sin, the greatness of our danger. v23 snaps our sin and danger right back into our view: We deserve to be destroyed from the earth!

But it also snaps God’s grace into view: so did Noah. So did those who were with him. But the Lord was gracious. And He is still gracious to all who are in Jesus Christ. Hide in Him!
Where might you hear that Genesis and the flood are a myth? How will you prepare not to give in? What is the connection between the cross and God’s right anger against your sin?
Suggested songs: ARP32A “What Blessedness,” or HB199 “Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed”

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

2017.11.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 104

Questions for Littles: How does this Psalm begin in the first two lines of v1 and end in the last two lines of v35? With what is God clothed (v1-2)? What are like house and chariot for Him (v2-3)? What was the Lord’s part in creation (v5)? In the flood (v6)? In the restoration (v7-9)? What has the Lord done for His various creatures, according to v10-14 and v16-22? What three things did God invent/create for man, and for what purposes (15)? What does man spend his day doing (23)? How does God’s work compare (24-26)? For what do all creatures depend upon the Lord in 27-28? For what do they depend upon Him in v29-30? What belongs to the Lord in v31a? In v31b? How do v33-34 correspond to that? Comparing v32 and v35a, what do those verses show about God? With their placement in the middle of delighting in God and glorifying Him, how are we to respond to these truths about the Lord?
This week’s Call to Worship and Invocation came from Psalm 104. This Psalm puts God in His place.

It praises Him as the Creator of an amazing world with amazing variety. It praises Him as the One who sustains all of His creatures from the smallest to the largest, from the least intelligent to man, from the defenseless to the powerful.  It praises Him as the One who continuously rules and overrules everything according to His sovereign will.

Man works hard to grow and process wine, and oil, and grain. But it is the Lord who invested these with the ability to gladden man, and give him strength and health. Our ability to work and produce and enjoy are all great privileges, because they are ways that God has permitted us to imitate Him in the creation.

But that’s just the point: even with all of our privileges, we are creatures. He is the Creator. Let us also imitate His generosity, His tender care. Generosity and kindness are becoming to those created in the image of such a Lord as we know and worship.

Still, let us not miss that the Lord saved the first half of v35 for the final thing for which to praise the Lord: His wrath and justice. With a Lord so glorious, it is the greatest of evils to fail to praise Him, let alone even to rebel against Him! Therefore, it is one of His great glories that He does not leave this unpunished.

As we obey the command at the beginning and end of this Psalm, to bless the Lord and praise Him with our whole soul, let us recognize the One in whom all of these meet: His generosity, His love, His power, His justice, His wrath—all are best seen in the cross of Christ!
For which of the God’s attributes, do you most need to increase appreciation? How will you?
Suggested songs: ARP104C “The Trees of the LORD,” or HB26 “O Worship the King”

Monday, November 27, 2017

2017.11.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 4:14-16

Questions for Littles: Who is our great High Priest (v14)? Through what has He passed? To what, then, should we hold fast? What do we not have, according to v15? 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 (v16)? 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? 
In the Scripture for the sermon this week, we are instructed to hold fast to our confession.

Confessing is literally saying the same thing together. Why is it so important to cling to theology that the church agrees upon? Because the theology is all about a Person.

Sometimes, people ask, “Why do we have to care so much about theology? Why can’t we just trust in Jesus and love Him?” But that’s just the point: who is Jesus? What does it mean to trust Him? What does it mean to love Him?

The last time we saw this word for “clinging” (“holding fast”), was in 3:6, when we were told to hold fast to the confidence and rejoicing that we have. This confidence is in “the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus” (3:1).

From then up through 4:13, we heard about Jesus as the Apostle of our confession. He is the One who acts on God’s behalf toward us on the Lord’s Days, and especially in preaching, as He prepares us to enter into God’s rest. The Word is a means of grace from Him. Trusting in Jesus and loving Jesus means coming with soft hearts to the preaching every Lord’s Day.

Now, holding fast to our confession also means holding onto Jesus as our High Priest. For the next six chapters, we’ll be hearing what that means. Jesus does not only minister to us on behalf of God; He also ministers before God on behalf of us!

Where does He do that? Not in the middle of the camp, but the right hand of majesty. Not in the tent of meeting, but on the throne of glory. He has passed through the heavens! And what is His status there? Merely as a son of Adam? No! As the very Son of God, who has added humanity to Himself! Behold the glorious One who humbled Himself to become ours!

Trusting Jesus and loving Him requires the doctrines of the Trinity and the Hypostatic union. What is it to hold fast to our confession? To hold fast to Jesus Christ!
In what activities do you study theology? How much effort are you putting in? Why/why not?
Suggested Songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken to My Lord,” or HB143 “At the Name of Jesus”

Saturday, November 25, 2017

2017.11.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 4:11-13

Questions for Littles: What should we be diligent (or strive) to do, according to the first part of v11? What would keep us from doing so, according to the second part of v11? What is living and powerful, according to the first part of v12? How sharp is it, according to the second part of v12? To what divisions does the Word of God pierce? What does it discern about our hearts? What creatures are hidden from God’s sight, according to v13? What things are naked and exposed to God’s eyes? What will we have to give to God? 
In the Scripture for the sermon this week, we heard about the sharpest sword ever.

The Biblical understanding of man is that of a body and a soul. The words “soul” and “spirit” are two different words that refer to same part of us—sometimes in the same way and sometimes in different ways.

One important thing that Scripture teaches us about our souls is that we are different than the animals. At death, the souls of animals return to the dirt along with their bodies. But for man, at death, only that part of us that was made from dirt returns to dirt.

Man knows that it is appointed for him to die once, and then after that the judgment (cf. Heb 9:27). Our souls always continue. Our souls are always before God. And that is why that, unlike the animals’ bodies, our bodies will be resurrected, and we will stand before God to give an account.

Allow me to repeat that.

You will give an account to God. You will stand before Him, and He will ask, and answer will be given of everything that you have done with everything that He has given you. Without the gospel, without the blood of Christ, there is no way to psychologically survive really thinking about that—let alone when the Day itself comes.

It is no wonder, then that our passage begins, “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest.” Jesus is saving us. The story of our lives as Christians is an overarching story of how He is bringing us to glory. And the story of each Lord’s Day Sabbath (v9) and its services is one of how He gathers us up into glory by faith and addresses us there from His Word.

Do not harden your hearts! When He is speaking to us by the words on the pages of Scripture, and by the preaching of those words, do not harden your hearts!

Those words are sharp words that remind you that in your soul and spirit, you are different than the animals. Those words discern your thoughts—so many times, as the Bible is preached, we admit, “Yep—that’s exactly how I think, God help me!”

Those words reveal the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. Sometimes, we say that something is difficult to understand, when the real truth is that it is difficult to accept because it has laid bare something ugly from our hearts. Let us be careful of the different ways in which we attempt to wriggle out from under the Scriptures as they are preached.

We will not be hidden from Jesus’ sight on that last great day. As He is about the business of saving us through His Word, let us not attempt to hide from His sight now! Let us be diligent to enter His rest!
What are some of the ways that we do not listen to the Scripture preached? How does it help, to remember that we will stand before the Lord Jesus? How does it help to remember that, right now, He is saving us!
Suggested Songs: ARP184 “Adoration and Submission” or HB70 “O Day of Rest and Gladness”

Friday, November 24, 2017

2017.11.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 5:1-20

Questions for Littles: Whose country do they come to on the other side of the sea (v1)? Who meets him, immediately out of the tombs (v2)? Where was this man’s home (v3)? What couldn’t any man do to him? Why not (v4)? What would he do always, night and day (v5)? What does the man with the unclean spirit do in v6? What does He ask Jesus not to do in v7? What does Jesus command the spirit to do in v8? What does Jesus ask the spirit in v9? What is the answer? What does the man beg in v10? What do the demons beg in v12? How many pigs are able to be controlled by the number of spirits that were in the man, in v13? Who go and tell about this in the city and the country (v14)? What do people find when they come to Jesus (15)? How then do they feel about Jesus?  What do they find out in v16? What do they plead with Jesus in v17? What does the man in v18 now beg? Instead whose praise does Jesus tell him to proclaim in the country, in v19? And whose praise does the man go and proclaim in v20?
In the Gospel reading this week, the Lord Jesus delivers a demon possessed man, but this is different from many other times that He does this.

Usually, Jesus doesn’t allow a demon to speak. He just silences it and casts it out. This time, He asks the demon’s name in order to expose how many there are and show the power and necessity of the gospel.

As to how many, it is a bit stunning that the entire herd of two thousand are drowned. See how destructive are those creatures who previously were enabling the man to shatter his chains so that he could continue crying out and cutting himself?!

But consider also the power of the gospel. The demons were afraid to be sent out of the country. What was happening in the neighboring country? People were hearing about the kingdom of Jesus. People were believing in the kingdom of Jesus. Once when Jesus had let demons speak, they had said, “have you come to torment us before the time?” Now, these demons are assuming that the time of torment has come, and that the kingdom where that happens is developing next door in Judea. Consider the power of the gospel of Christ!

Finally, let us consider the necessity of the gospel. Our now-saved Gadarene friend wants to go with Christ to enjoy that developing kingdom in Galilee and Judea, but Jesus won’t let him. Why not? Because Jesus is Lord over all the earth, and that Lordship spreads by His gospel. Jesus had permitted the demons’ request to stay, but He does not permit the Gadarene’s request to leave.  We must yield ourselves to the wisdom of our Master, when He does not grant us various requests.

Notice that whereas the man is commanded to proclaim the Lord in v19, he very specifically goes and proclaims Jesus. We too are sent to proclaim the Lord. The gospel is necessary everywhere, because Jesus is Lord everywhere, and this is how He extends His kingdom of freedom from sin and Satan.
How has Jesus saved you from sin and Satan? What else has He saved you from? Whom have you told?
Suggested songs: ARP180 “Christ Shall Have Dominion” or HB141 “O for a Thousand Tongues”

Thursday, November 23, 2017

2017.11.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 5:12-21

Questions for Littles: How did sin enter the world (v12)? What entered through sin? What had all men done (v12)? What was already in the world before it was given on Sinai (v13)? What happened to men from Adam to Moses, to show that the law was already in effect (v14)? When Adam’s offense and Jesus’ grace are in competition, which does v15 say “abounded”? How many offenses of Adam did it take to condemn us (17a)? From how many of our offenses did Jesus justify us (17b)? What kind of gift did v16 call this? How were many made sinners (19a)? How were many made righteous (19b)? When the law came to be written on stone and scroll, instead of only on hearts, what abounded (20)? But when Jesus came and was obedient in our place, what abounded even more than the offense of those sins? Whose kingly reigns are in competition in v21? What do each of these produce? Whom does v21 identify as having made this glorious difference?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we have one of Scripture’s great comparisons between the first Adam and the last Adam, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Some dislike the idea of Adam’s sin being counted against us. But the fact of the matter is that if we cannot be considered in our federal head, then this takes Jesus away from us. We are sinning and dying plenty for ourselves. How we ought to rejoice that there is a free gift of righteousness and eternal life for us in the obedience of Jesus Christ!

Some dislike the idea of Jesus being punished for the sins of others. But let them see that He willingly went. It is grace! It is a free gift! It is not some horror of injustice, but a mind-boggling quest of love and power!

And let all remember that apart from Jesus and His grace we are perishing. God’s law has always been on our hearts. There is no escape. One great purpose of His proceeding to give that law also in plain words was to intensify this urgency. How great is our offense against God!

And yet, it is precisely the gospel that enables us to say, “How great is my offense!” As we go through life, realizing this over and over again, we are not terrified to death, but rather more and more amazed at our eternal life.

Every time we say, “How great is my offense!” The Lord Jesus comes along in the gospel and says, “How greater is my grace!” There is no extent of the believer’s realization of his sin and death that Christ has not already answered with forgiveness and eternal life. For the believer, wherever sin abounds, grace has already abounded all the more!
How often are you amazed at your sin? Is it possible that not being amazed enough at it is keeping you from being as amazed at Jesus as you might otherwise have been?
Suggested songs: ARP51B “From My Sins, O Hide Your Face,” or HB276 “There Is a Fountain”

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

2017.11.26 Worship Folder and Service Info

The worship folder for November 26 is now available at https://goo.gl/WFYp2y
In the sermon, from Hebrews 4:14-16, we will be hearing about how Christ's having ascended through the heavens gives us access to the throne of glory, making it for us a throne of grace.
This week's Catechism for Young Children question:
Q. 45. What did Christ undertake in the covenant of grace?
A. To keep the whole law for his people, and to suffer the punishment due to their sins.
This week's Westminster Shorter Catechism question:
Q. 15. What was the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created?
A. The sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created was their eating the forbidden fruit.
Song selections:
HB26 O Worship the King https://goo.gl/UhjJwu
​ARP183 Under His Wings, text: https://goo.gl/67JDsU / tune: https://goo.gl/8Wv1Qw
​HB385 What a Friend We Have in Jesus​ https://goo.gl/yE6L8x

DRIVE.GOOGLE.COM

2017.11.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 7:1-10

Questions for Littles: How does Noah decide when to go into the ark? What are clean animals for (so far, cf. 9:3)? How many are they to take? How many unclean? How far in advance of the flood does the Lord command him into the ark? How much of what was commanded him does Noah do (v6)? What is repeated in v7? What is repeated in v8-9? What happens after seven days (v10)? 
In this week’s Old Testament reading, we have Noah’s grand entrance into the ark.

The Lord begins telling him to come into the ark in v1. Noah obeys the command in v5. His obedience is then summarized in repetition in v7. And the flood waters come in v10.

This is like a zooming in of a camera, or a slowing down into super slo-mo replay. The story is going to pick up again next week in detailed descriptions of the storm and the flooding. But, for this week, it focuses upon the entering.

This was an intense moment. But, it wasn’t really a moment was it? It was a week. A week of sitting on the ark, with all those animals. A week of starting to do the chores. A week of experiencing the smells. A week of experiencing the new family dynamics of living in this conditions with one another as sinners. A week of no rain. A week of everyone outside knowing that they were inside. And still, a week of no flood.

That certainly required a great deal of faith, and praise the Lord that He gave it to them. Noah did according to all that Yahweh had commanded him (v5). Things were done just as God had commanded Noah (v9).

Why? Yes, so that He to whom the Lord had provided righteousness (cp. the use of “seen” in v1 with the use of that word in Gen 22) could be saved. But that salvation also had a purpose. The worship of God.

Noah knew this because he had at least seven of every clean animal. Probably 14, if the “sevens” of v2 are distributed over “male and female”—it is saying 7 pairs. Noah didn’t know that they were for eating—that grace would come later in 9:3. To this point, clean animals were only for sacrifice, only for worship.

The earth ought to have filled with the worship of God, but now it was filled with violence. God was cleansing it with the flood, and preserving a family in the ark to repopulate it with worship.

Noah knew that he was being saved for the worship of God! We too are saved by Jesus for the eternal worship of God!
How many days this week did we miss private or family worship? How many days this year did we miss corporate worship? What are we most looking forward to in glory? What does this data show about the priority of worship in our lives? God generously gives us food, but we aren’t saved to eat!
Suggested songs: ARP130 “Lord, From the Depths to You I Cried,” or HB26 “O Worship the King”

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

2017.11.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 73

Questions for Littles: How does the Psalm summarize its teaching in v1? But what does the Psalmist immediately admit about himself, concerning faith in God’s goodness, in v2? What are some things that he had noticed about the wicked in vv3-12? What did he conclude about himself and his godliness in v13? What circumstance from v14 had led him to decide that there was no point in being godly? But what would he have done if he had spoken like that out loud (v15)? When he tried to figure this out, what happened (v16)? What ended up making the difference (v17)? Whose end does he understand in v17-20? What does he conclude had been his problem in vv21-22? Who is always with him? Who will receive him into glory? Whose end is he learning about now? What does that teach him about what to value in v25? What does that teach him about whom to depend upon in v26? What will happen to those who are far from God (v27)? What is good in v28? What is the ultimate purpose of trusting in the Lord in v28?
This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation, and Confession of Sin all came from Psalm 73:17-28
Here, we learn the value of true worship—because it teaches us what a true life of thanksgiving looks like.

It looks like remembering what our end could have been (losing everything we have on earth, and falling into destruction as we are condemned by God).

It looks like remembering what our end is instead (enjoying the glorious holiness of God forever and ever).

It looks like realizing that we have, now already, Him who is the heavenliness of heaven. We are continually with Him! It is He who holds us by our right hand! It is He who guides us with His counsel! Who is He? The glorious One who will receive us into His own glory.

It looks like concluding that if we have Him, we have already, now, in heaven and earth, more property than we could ever hope to desire. God is our portion forever.

It looks like concluding that if we have Him, we have already, now, more power than we could ever fear to need. God is the strength of our heart.

Is God near to us? Then we have not kept our hands clean in vain. Are we far from God? Then we are on the cusp of eternal destruction.

Why have we trusted in God? Not so that we can get all the other earthly stuff that we love, but so that we can realize and tell all that God is more glorious and worthy than all else combined!
What trials do you have right now? What earthly things do you desire? How does God compare?
Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly I Am with You,” or HB303 “Be Thou My Vision”

Audio from November 19, 2017 has been Uploaded

Both using the in-page app above, and at Hopewell's Sermonaudio page, you can now find recordings of the morning sermon, the Hopewell 101 study class, and the Lord's Supper Table Lesson.

Monday, November 20, 2017

2017.11.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1Corinthians 11:17-34

Questions for Littles: Was the Corinthians’ coming together making it better or worse (17)? What was the first reason that coming together for church was actually hurting them instead of helping them (18)? What is one reason that God allows these divisions—these factions—in the church (19)? Whose Supper, then, were they not eating (20)? Because whose supper were each of them taking (21)? From whom did Paul receive these instructions about the Supper (23)? What did Jesus take on the night He was betrayed (23)? When He gave thanks, what did He do with it (24)? What did He say? When did He take up the cup (25)? What did He say about it? What do eating the bread and drinking the cup proclaim (show forth) (26)? And for how long? If someone eats or drinks in the wrong way (“an unworthy manner”) of what are they guilty (27)? What is someone to do about the way he takes the Lord’s Supper (28)? What happens to us if we are wrong about that (29)? What was happening to them because they were taking wrong (30-32)? What should we do at the Lord’s Supper, when we come together to eat (33)? If we are hungry for food, what are we to do (34)?
This week, we celebrated the Lord’s Supper. It’s one of the great gifts that the Lord Jesus uses to bless us in worship. But, it was hurting the Corinthians instead of helping them. Why? Because everyone was seeking their own interests (v21). It was a spill-over from the division in their church (v18) that God was using to expose the hearts of some who were not even believers (v19).

But even believers were getting caught up in this division and self-interest. v32 tells us that some who were being judged with death were those who would not be condemned with the world. That doesn’t surprise us. Believers are sinners. We nurse bitterness, color others ugly with our words.

But of course the Lord’s Supper must never be the place for this. Jesus was betrayed for His church. Jesus died for this church. And Jesus gives Himself to His church, at the Lord’s Supper in particular. When He is giving Himself to us, we must not come to the table for anything else. And when He is giving Himself to our brothers and sisters, we must not come to the table with hearts divided against them.

He gives us bread to eat. But He tells us that He is feeding us upon Himself. He gives us a cup to drink. But He tells us that this is a covenant pledge—an action of announcing and confirming His bond with us and our bond with Him.

So, if we are just trying to have a snack, or trying to display ourselves, or make ourselves feel a certain way… then we are ignoring Jesus. And if we aren’t recognizing that the ones taking the Supper with us were so precious to Him that He is doing the same for them, then we are ignoring Jesus.

And if we are ignoring Jesus at the Lord’s Supper, we are not just guilty of a procedural error, or momentary gluttony, or even failing to reconcile with a brother. If we are ignoring Jesus at the moment that He is giving Himself to us as fruit of His work on the cross, then we are sinning against the body and blood of Jesus.

This is the great self-examination as we come to the table. It’s not trying to figure out if we’re spiritual enough, or repentant enough, or believing enough. It’s a questioning of whether we are coming because we know ourselves to be sinners, and we know Christ to be our only hope. It’s a questioning of whether as we come, we will look to Christ by faith and rejoice that He gives Himself to our brothers and sisters, as well as to us.
Why do you take the Lord’s Supper? What are you looking for as you take? Are you also thinking about your brothers and sisters who are taking the supper? With whom do you need to reconcile, so that you can rejoice for them?
Suggested Songs: ARP191 “I Love the Lord,” or HB443 “A Parting Hymn We Sing”

Saturday, November 18, 2017

2017.11.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 12:9-14

Questions for Littles: Where did Jesus proceed to go after the argument in the grainfields (v9)? What man did He find there in v10? What did they ask Him? Why? What did He ask them in response in v11? What does He prove is lawful in v12?  What does Jesus do in v13? How do the Pharisees respond in v14?
In the Scripture for the sermon this week, we learned that the Day of Worship is also a day on which activities that are necessary to help us worship should be done. This obviously includes eating, and can often include things like taking a nap or such exercise as is necessary to worship well in the evening service.

The point is to make choices based upon being able to worship as much as possible, as well as possible on this day. We covered that principle in vv1-8 on Monday.

Now that Jesus has gone to the synagogue, we learn that the Day of Worship is a day also especially for showing the mercy of Jesus to those who are ignored and uncared for by others. In this case, it’s the man with the withered hand.

It’s wonderful that the Pharisees were watching Jesus. It seems that they just knew He was too compassionate to pass over someone who is suffering. If His enemies recognize this about Him, then how much more should we?! How we should take comfort from the fact that our Lord can hardly bear to see us suffer for a moment! Surely, He only permits us to endure such suffering as is absolutely necessary.

And this is just the point: for someone with the heart of Christ, extending mercy is well nigh a deed of necessity. And that’s how He wants us to be. It’s exactly what He was saying in the grainfield in v7: He desires mercy and not sacrifice.

How unmerciful are the Pharisees? By v14 their idea of Sabbath keeping is to plot how they might destroy Jesus!

So, if the Lord’s Day is a day for mercy, the onus is upon us to discover who around us have the greatest need, and particularly the greatest need of the gospel—and then to seek to minister to that need, gladly using time on the Lord’s Day for that, if being freed from other duties on that day makes it the best day for us to be able to.
Who are some needy—and especially spiritually needy—folks that are often being ignored in our area? What can we do for them? If time is a limiting factor, on what day can we do it?

Friday, November 17, 2017

2017.11.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 4:35-41

Questions for Littles: Whose idea was it to cross over to the other side of the lake (v35)? What size boats were they in (v36)? What happened to the boats (v37)? Where was Jesus (v38)? What do they ask Him? How does Jesus stop the storm in v39? Whom else does He rebuke in v40? What does He rebuke them for? What do they fear even more in v41? What do they ask?
In the Gospel reading this week, we learn what to fear and what not to fear.

Just as God was the One who picked the fight that led to the situation with Job, so now it is Jesus who initiates the situation with the boats. The disciples are about to become witnesses of astonishing power (over nature in this passage, and over demons in the next one).

Because we know what Jesus is about to do, we should be particularly impressed with v38. Our Savior needs sleep. Our Creator needs sleep. Our God needs sleep. He’s exhausted—so tired that even the storm doesn’t wake Him. The disciples have to do that!

To be fair, it seems that the disciples know that Jesus could do something about the storm. To be brutally honest, it seems worse that they would be confident in His power but not in His care. But are they not like we are? Do we not sometimes, in prayer, cry to the Lord knowing that He can do something, but nursing doubt in our hearts that He will do anything? The Lord’s question is valid: why are we so fearful? How is it that we have no faith?

So… let us not fear our circumstances. After all, we have an almighty and all-loving Savior who rules and overrules in everything that happens to us!

But let us also learn to fear. It is one thing to heal diseases, and even to command evil spirits, but it is something else altogether to command the very creation.

Now, they fear exceedingly. Before, they had merely thought they were dying. Now they realize that they are in the very presence of God.

They know the answer to their question: who can this be that wind and sea obey Him? We know who He is. And the most amazing thing isn’t that He would be asleep on a pillow in a boat. The most amazing thing? That He would die on a cross and bear God’s wrath for us!
Who is Jesus? What can He do? What has He done for you? What will He do for you?
Suggested songs: ARP180 “Christ Shall Have Dominion” or HB141 “O for a Thousand”

Thursday, November 16, 2017

2017.11.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 5:1-11

Questions for Littles: By what have we been justified (v1)? What does that give us with God? In what do we stand (v2)? In what do we rejoice? What do we glory in (v3)? What does tribulation produce? What does perseverance produce (v4)? What does character produce? What does not disappoint (v5)? What has been poured out in our hearts? How? When did Christ die (v6)? For whom did Christ die? How does God demonstrate His love for us (v8)? What happens to us after we are justified by Christ’s blood (v9) and reconciled through the death of His Son (v10)? In whom do we rejoice through Jesus Christ?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we came to a passage that describes the Christian life, once we are made right with God (justified). It is a life of peace and hope and joy!

First, we have peace with God. He is entirely for us now, just as He is entirely against wickedness. How did this come about? By reconciliation. Enmity has been exchanged for peace. The death of Christ has ended our enmity with God.

But what about Christians who have trouble? It is precisely that trouble through which we receive the perseverance and the character that produces hope! God trains us to rejoice already in those things that Christ has earned for us for the future.

What has He earned for us? The very glory of God (v2, 11)! How can we be sure that we will enter into God’s glory? Because He has already justified us. If when we were without strength, and when we were ungodly, and when we were still sinners, Christ died for us… now what will God do for us?!

Here is an amazing truth: we are no longer without strength! We are in Jesus Christ. He has poured His love out in our hearts. His grace makes us strong in Him, with His strength instead of ours. Because we have none in ourselves!

We are now counted righteous in Christ! How much more will God do for us now?! There can be absolutely no doubt that He is completing our salvation. Therefore, we can rejoice in this hope, for it is sure.

Peace and hope and joy. Did you notice that all of them depend upon Christ’s cross and final glory? What don’t they depend upon? Our circumstances! If you are in Christ, then peace and hope and joy are for you—regardless of current circumstances.
What circumstances threaten your peace, hope, and joy? In whom are they sure?
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd,” or HB368 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

2017.11.19 Worship Folder and Service Info

The worship folder for November 19 is now available at https://goo.gl/WCm9ny
In the sermon, we return to Hebrews 4 to hear from vv11-13 about the glorious Sabbath work that our dear Redeemer does in us as the "Apostle of Our Confession"
Don't forget that we will celebrate the Lord's Supper, so come prepared, freshly convinced of your desperate need of Him and His abundance for that need!
This week's catechism questions:
Catechism for Young Children
Q. 44. Whom did Christ represent in the covenant of grace?
A. His elect people.
Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 14. What is sin?
A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.
Songs:
HB303 Be Thou My Vision https://goo.gl/ZutLmn
ARP183 Under His Wings https://goo.gl/gTLVft
HB253 How I Love Thy Law, O Lord! https://goo.gl/zhRUPS
ARP191 I Love the Lord
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