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
DRIVE.GOOGLE.COM

2017.11.15 Prayer Meeting

Want to pray with the congregation tonight, but can't make it physically?
Use the following schedule to join us in heart and mind. https://goo.gl/KTqwWX
If you live a fair distance away, perhaps you may even wish to start your own "satellite meeting," inviting other believers near you to participate!

2017.11.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 6:9-22

Questions for Littles: Who was a just man (v9)? How is his life described at the end of v9? What was God’s view of the earth in v11-12? What did God give as the primary sin of man in v13? What does God tell Noah to do in v14? Where does Noah come up with the details for building the ark (15-16)? What is the Lord doing to the earth (v17)? But what is the Lord doing to Noah (v18)? And to whom else with Noah? What else does God tell Noah to bring in v19-20? And what in v21? How does Noah respond to God’s commands in v22? 
In this week’s Old Testament reading, we come to the building of the ark.

God has shown Noah grace (v8), and what did it produce? Righteousness and walking with God. Obedience and faith.

Both are critically necessary here, because God uses both literally to save Noah’s life. He has to trust the Lord’s Word. He has to follow the Lord’s directions.

God could supernaturally save Noah without his participation, but that is not how His grace operates.
He not only saves His people; He gives them the privilege of being used in His salvation of others; He makes covenant with them and those who belong to them.

They walk with God. They walk with God by listening to His Word, but they also walk with God by imitating His care. By taking covenant leadership of their family. By bringing in the animals. By gathering food for them.

It is a glorious grace that not only saves a man but transforms him and uses him.

But there is a hard truth here that we should not forget. God doesn’t owe anyone this grace. We have corrupted ourselves with our sin.

Our easy hostility and bitterness against others shows us to have much in common with those whose “violence filled the earth.” Every harsh word, glare, gossip, attack of any kind… reminds us that we deserve to be among the destroyed and dead.

Understanding this ought to make us all the more amazed at God’s grace!
With whom do you most struggle with bitterness and irritation? How does God’s hatred for violence help you to hate this sin too? What hope can there be for people who have it in their hearts? Whom is God using You to bless and care for?
Suggested songs: ARP170 “The Penitent’s Prayer & Confession,” or HB275 “Amazing Grace”

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

2017.11.19 Morning Worship Song Selections

HB303 Be Thou My Vision
ARP183 Under His Wings (TUNE -- this is the new "psalm of the while"... probably a month or so)
HB253 How I Love Thy Law, O Lord!
ARP191 I Love the Lord

If we practice throughout the week, not only will we help others sing better in the service itself, but we ourselves will be able to sing more mindfully, and receive that admonishment by which the Word of Christ dwells in us richly, and we are filled with the Holy Spirit!

2017.11.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 62

Questions for Littles: For whom is David waiting (v1, 5)? Who else is His rock and salvation (v2, 6)?  What have David’s enemies been doing, according to v3? But what were they doing with their mouths in v4? Who is described as a rock in v6 and again in v7? Who is described as a vapor in v9? Which one weighs more? What else is not weighty enough to trust in v10? To whom does power belong (v11)? What else belongs to Him (v12)? What are we to learn to do with God in v8, based upon David’s experience?
This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation, and Confession of Sin came from Psalm 62. In this Psalm, David has learned to trust the Lord no matter what. He’s under attack (v3), and his enemies are blessing him to his face and cursing him in their hearts (v4). But, David’s life hasn’t just been a life of being attacked and cursed over and over again. It has been a life of God faithfully pulling him through, over and over again.

This is why David isn’t afraid of men, saying “I shall not be moved” (v2, 6). And it’s also why David doesn’t trust  in men of any class (v9), or in the ability to use force or theft or bribery (v10). No. David knows who’s in control. And it’s never them. It’s always God.

Let us learn not to open our mouths in complaint against God (v1, 5), but rather wait upon Him. He is well-proven and full of both power (v11) and mercy (v12). If this was true 1000 years before Christ, how much more true it is now!

Is God’s power well-proven? Behold the resurrection! Is God’s steadfast love well-proven? Behold the cross!

Therefore dear Christians, let us trust in Him at all times. Not just when things have gone ill with us. Even in the good times, let us trust only in Him and not lazily slip into trusting in how comfortable or easy the time is.

But let us also trust in Him at bad times, the hard times—the times when we are tempted to hope in our own wits, schemes, plans, or resources. Do not set your heart on them (v10).

What then are we to do with our hearts? Pour them out before the Lord! Note that the silence in v1 and v5 is not an absolute silence. It is a silence against complaint, but it doesn’t teach us to just shut up. It is actually a very noisy silence: “Pour out your heart before Him!”
What tough circumstances are you in? Have you poured out your heart to the Lord? What wrong responses are you tempted to, that you need to avoid by trusting in the Lord instead?
Suggested songs: ARP62A “My Soul Finds Rest,” or HB113 “My Soul with Expectation”

Monday, November 13, 2017

2017.11.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 12:1-8

Questions for Littles: On what day was Jesus going through the grain fields (v1)? Why did His disciples begin to pluck heads of grain to eat (v1)? What did the Pharisees claim that the disciples were breaking (v2)? Of whom else’s hunger does Jesus remind them in v3? Why would the priests give that crowd their own bread (v4)? Who worked on the Sabbath according to v5? What made their work lawful? Who is greater than the temple (v6)? What did the Pharisees value more than sacrifice (v7)? What does God value more? Who calls Himself the Lord of the Sabbath in v8? What else does He call Himself in v8?
In the Scripture for the sermon this week, we find Jesus going through grainfields on the Sabbath. Based upon His earlier Sabbath movements, it doesn’t surprise us that He is on His way to worship, or mercy ministry, or in this case both. Jesus is perfectly consistent (v9, cf. Luke 4:16).

You know who isn’t consistent? We’re not. And the disciples are often the best examples for that. Except for the suffering and death of Christ, there is one area in which they are pretty consistent, though: sticking to Jesus.

And that’s what the Sabbath is all about. Sticking with Jesus (cf. John 6:68). The disciples weren’t harvesting on the Sabbath; they were gleaning. The Pharisees were wrong about the law. But they were wrong about something more serious, and Jesus points it out: they were wrong about Him.

The disciples were with Jesus, just like David’s friends were with David. Those friends got hungry because they were with the Lord’s anointed, and the priests treated them like their own family. These disciples are hungry because they are with the Lord’s Anointed, capital A, the Messiah, the Son of David. And in order to spend Sabbath with Jesus, whatever is necessary to feed them is righteous.

Then there is work that is necessary to enable people to worship. At one time, that was Levites in the temple. Today, it’s police, firemen, EMTs, and others whose service keeps us safe and free to worship on the Lord’s Day. Temple worship was a great gift in its time, but Lord’s Day worship in Christ is infinitely greater.

How is it that the Pharisees missed the glorious gift that God has given us in Jesus Christ? Jesus says that it’s because they don’t know what is meant by “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” They suffered from the exact same problem as the Jews in Isaiah 58. God didn’t want their misery. He wanted their mercy in response to His mercy!

Oh, dear Christian, what a merciful Lord and Savior we have! What a glorious day the Sabbath is, to spend with Him in worship and mercy. Those other things that make it possible—let’s do them!
How do you spend the Lord’s Day with Jesus? What has to be done to free us up to do so?
Suggested Songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly I Am with You,” or HB74 “Safely Through Another Week”