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”