Saturday, March 17, 2018

2018.03.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 10:23-25

Questions for Littles: What should we do with the confession of our hope (v23)? Without what should we hold fast? Why should we hold fast without wavering (end of v23)? Whom should we consider (v24)? In order to stir up what? What must we not forsake (v25)? As we see the Day approaching how much should we exhort one another? 
Has it ever crossed your mind that “all I need is Jesus; I don’t need the church”?
If there were ever a place in Scripture that we might think to find such thinking, the book of Hebrews would be it.

Here we have Jesus declared in all of His unique glory as being in very nature God Himself. Here we have Jesus, even with respect to His human nature being the only possible Priest for us, the only effective sacrifice for us, the One in whom we are certain to be completely forgiven and saved to the uttermost.

It is by His blood alone that we are emboldened to draw near to God. It is by the pathway alone of His flesh that we are enabled to draw near to God. It is by baptism into Him alone that our hearts are unburdened from an evil conscience.

Jesus alone! Jesus alone! Jesus alone! How wonderful it is, therefore, that this is the very passage in which He says most clearly, “But it is My will and My way that you do not have Me by being alone!”

He has called us to be alongside one another. This is the literal meaning of that word “exhorting” in v25. Sometimes it is translated exhort, sometimes comfort, or encourage, or counsel, or rebuke. It is the word that Christ uses of the Spirit, when He says that He will send another “Comforter.”

Gathering as the church is not optional. On these Lord’s Days, in which He does that Word-work on softened-hearted believers, He points us to that great Day of entering His rest. He announces His work, and calls forth our love. He tells us His will, and calls forth our works.

It is in the Lord’s Day assembly that Jesus has especially appointed for us to draw near to God in the Holy of Holies. It is in the Lord’s-Supper-celebrating assembly of the baptized that Jesus has especially appointed for us to hold fast to our confession, to hold fast to Him.

What a good command and glorious gift are these Lord’s Day assemblies. Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together!!
What are some reasons that you are tempted to miss church? Why shouldn’t you?
Suggested Songs: ARP189 “Universal Praise” or HB435 “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord”

Friday, March 16, 2018

2018.03.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 10:46-11:11

Questions for Littles: Where had they come, and from where were they now leaving (v46)? Who was with Him? What was blind Bartimaeus doing? Whom did he hear was going by (v47)? What did he call Jesus? What did he ask Jesus to do? What did people warn him to do (v48)? How did he respond? What did Jesus do when He heard Bartimaeus (v49)? What did Jesus ask him in v51? What did Bartimaeus say? What does Jesus say made him well? Where had Jesus commanded him to go? Where does he go instead? When they reach the Mount of Olives, what does He send two disciples to get (11:1-6)? What do the disciples do to the colt for Jesus to sit on (v7)? What do the people do with their clothes and the branches for Jesus to ride on (v8)? What did the people cry out in v9-10? What does Jesus do at the temple in v11? Where does He then go and why?
In this week’s gospel reading, if we pay careful attention, we will notice the way of salvation: faith in Jesus Christ as the promised forever-King.

Last week’s passage had ended with “The Son of Man… came to give His life a ransom for many.” Now, in v52 Jesus literally says, “Your faith has saved you,” and then in vv9-10 the people are crying “Hosanna!,” which literally means “O, save!” 

But it is not just the truth of salvation that draws these passages together. They are also held together by the truth about how that salvation comes.

The son of Timaeus is interested in someone else’s parentage. He doesn’t refer to Jesus as Teacher or even Lord, but as Son of David. He recognizes that Jesus is that forever-King promised to David in 2Samuel 7. When Jesus heals him and tells him to go his own way, there is only one way that Bartimaeus wishes to go: whichever way Jesus, his forever-King, leads.

Then, in chapter 11, it is obvious that the people are treating Jesus as a King. The implication in the colt hunt is that there are people who now recognize that everything in the kingdom ought to be at the King’s disposal. The disciples consider Jesus too royal to ride bare upon an animal’s back. The people consider Jesus too royal for His steed’s hooves to touch the bare ground.

Why all this kingly treatment? v10 explains, “Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that comes in the name of the Lord!” Here again is the recognition that this is the forever-King of 2Samuel 7, Psalm 72, Psalm 2, etc.

I wonder, dear reader, if you are responding to Jesus as King? Surely, the first step is to believe in Him with similar faith to that which saved Bartimaeus. But are we going wherever He leads? Is His wish our command? Do we treat Him as royalty, offering that honor and homage and worship that is due unto Him? Is He our KING?!
In what way could you most improve responding to Jesus as your King?
Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or HB496 “Jesus Shall Reign”

Thursday, March 15, 2018

2018.03.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 12:14-21

Questions for Littles: What are we to do with those who persecute us (v14a)? What are we not to do (v14b)? What are we to do with those who rejoice (v15a)? What are we to do with those who weep (15b)? What kind of mind are we to seek to have together (16a)? With whom should we be willing to associate (16b)? What are we not to think of ourselves (16c)? What are we not to repay (v17)? To whom are we to provide good things? What are we to do if possible (v18)? What are we not to do (v19)? To whom does vengeance belong? What are we to do with our enemy (v20)? What does this end up doing upon him? What does good like this do to evil (v21)? 
In our epistle reading this week, we rapidly receive many commands.

They are simple commands, but that is not the same thing as easy commands!

When someone persecutes us, we have an assignment from God: speak well of them.

When our brother or sister rejoices, we have an assignment from God: rejoice with them.

When our brother weeps, we have an assignment from God: weep with them.

When someone does us evil, we have an assignment from God: provide them good things in the sight of all men.

When someone is hostile to us, we have an assignment from God: do what we rightly can to be at peace with them.

If our enemy is hungry, we have an assignment from God: feed him.

If our enemy is thirsty, we have an assignment from God: give him drink.

This is not surrender but overcoming: stirring up the wrath of God more against the enemy, if he does not repent.

The key to all of this is to be of the same mind to one another—that we don’t view ourselves as higher and some others as lower, but exercise humility.

Of course, the startling thing here is the “one another” of v15. This implies that v14 did not abruptly begin a new section on how to deal with people outside the church. Rather, v14-21 is recognizing that there will be people who treat us like this from within the church!

So, let us not be surprised when what God has warned actually happens! Instead, let us realize that this is part of being in a group of sinners, and let us recognize that the Lord has given us a bunch of simple (not easy!) commands for what to do. Our assignment is clear!
Which of these “assignments” have you been neglecting? What are you going to do about it?
Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or HB473 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

2018.03.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 18:1-15

Questions for Littles: Who appeared to Abraham by the terebinth trees of Mamre (v1a)? How many men does Abraham see, when the Lord visits (v2)? What does Abraham do? What does he ask the Lord not to do (v3)? What does Abraham propose to do for the Lord in v4? What does he propose to do in v5? How much does he propose to bring to them? What does he command Sarah to prepare (v6)? What else does he run to have prepared in v7? What does he take along with this food in v8? What does the Lord ask in v9? What does the Lord promise about Sarah in v10? How does Sarah respond to this promise in v11-12? How does the Lord respond in v13-14? How does Sarah respond to His response in v15? 
In our Old Testament reading this week, Abraham is in a hurry to serve the Lord. v2, he ran. v6, he hurried. He told Sarah to make the cakes quickly. He ran to the herd. The young man hastened to prepare the calf.

It’s a flurry of activity. Also, in good Middle Eastern style, the “bit of bread” that he proposed to bring them ends up being a feast suitable to roughly thirty people.

But Abraham, of course, becomes an example of the old adage, “You cannot out-give God.” By the time our passage is over, God has promised that Sarah herself would bear a child for Abraham within a year’s time.

This is where things get weird. Not so much that Sarah laughs in unbelief. We can all probably understand that, though we should not excuse it. But apparently Sarah’s view of God’s capability is rather small indeed. For, when He asks why she laughed, she actually denies having done so!

So, Sarah doesn’t just disbelieve that God can make her to bear the promised son. In fact, she starts an argument with God that presupposes that He does not know all things in all places at all times!

How ridiculous we sinners are, that we would even start an argument with God Himself! But how great is God’s mercy unto us—especially through the promised Son. Not just Isaac, but Jesus who at last would come from him.

God grant to us faith to believe His promises, and humility to hold our tongues!
What promise(s) of God have you had a hard time believing lately?
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or HB104 “The Lord’s My Shepherd”

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

2018.03.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 103:1-5

Questions for Littles: What or whom is the Psalmist commanding to bless the Lord (v1)? With how much of what is within him is he to obey this command? How many times does he give himself this command (v2a)? What is he not to forget (v2b)? What is the first benefit not to forgive (v3a)? What is the second (3b)? The third (4a)? The fourth (4b)? What is one of the tender mercies of God (5a)? What effect does it have (5b)?
This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation, and Confession of Sin came from Psalm 103:1-5.

In this passage, the Psalmist teaches and models for us proper self-talk, as he does elsewhere in the psalter (cf. Ps 42-43). And one of the most important things to tell ourselves is to remember to give praise and thanks to God with our whole being!

Of course, God is worthy of all praise, just because He is God. But that is not the only reason that He has given to us for praising Him. He does much to us and for us that is useful to our souls in stirring up praise unto Him.

The first and greatest benefit of God is the forgiveness of all of our sins. What use could anything else be without forgiveness?

But this is followed immediately by His healing all of our diseases, all of our sicknesses. We are, after all, both body and soul. And the Lord takes complete care of both. Just as many of our sins as He has forgiven, so also that many of our diseases He heals.

Those who promise the “health and wealth” gospel do not promise too much. They promise too little. They promise something that will again be taken away when the time comes for us to die. That is so much smaller than the disease-healing that is actually promised in the gospel.

Every believer in Jesus Christ must necessarily be resurrected in order to enjoy and praise the Lord, both body and soul, forever and ever. There is not a single disease or sickness in that comes into the life of a believer except that it is the Lord’s plan that it end not in death but in resurrection!

Truly, then, does v4 say, “who redeems your life from destruction.” This is both destruction in the ultimate sense (the Lord has redeemed us from death and Hell), and also in a current and ongoing sense. The Lord grants unto us to live in love and service to Him, and He is pleased to make us agents not of destruction but of blessing to others around us and even to the glory of His Name.

Every day, God pours out upon us His lovingkindness (covenant love) and tender mercies. Indeed, every meal that we eat, and every time we feel physically refreshed, it is one more installment of those love-gifts that stream continuously from that same love by which we are forgiven and shall at last be resurrected.

Let us learn to remember ALL of His benefits, so that we will continuously rest in and rejoice over His covenant love to us… so that we will bless His holy Name with our whole soul!
What opportunities do you have to remember the Lord’s benefits and bless His Name?
Suggested songs: ARP103A “O, Bless the Lord, My Soul” or HB8 “Bless, O My Soul, the Living God”

Monday, March 12, 2018

2018.03.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 10:19-22

Questions for Littles: Where do we have boldness to enter (v19)? By what do we have this boldness? What kind of way has Jesus consecrated for us to enter (20a)? What is the way through the veil (20b)? What do we have over the house of God (v21)? With what kind of heart may we draw near (22a)? From what were our hearts sprinkled, to be prepared for this (22b)? What also was washed to show this reality (22c)? 
In this week’s sermon text, we receive a call to action: “let us draw near!” We can see at the beginning of our passage the great obstacle to drawing near to God: timidity about entering the Holy of Holies. Nearness to God is nearness to the Creator, the Almighty, the Holy One.

Scripture tells us that He dwells in unapproachable light (1Timothy 6:16), that His eyes are too holy to look upon evil (Habakkuk 1:13), and that even seraphim who are living flame creatures hide their faces before Him (Isaiah 6:1-5).

Oh, dear reader, can you who are mere dust, and sinful dust at that, really draw near to the Living, Almighty God?!

Here is the glorious testimony of our passage: we have encouragement to do so from the very path that has been opened for us.

What is our pathway beyond the veil into the Holy of Holies? The flesh of Jesus Christ. Not dead flesh but resurrected, living flesh. A new and living way. His flesh is the very evidence that He is there not so much on God’s behalf; but, by God’s appointment, Jesus is there on our behalf as our High Priest.

And, as we have heard, He entered not with the blood of a bull or goat, but by His own precious blood. From there, He offers us to feed upon His flesh by faith. From there, He offers us to drink the cup of the new covenant in His blood. From there, He announces our welcome in Heaven.

We are joined to Jesus forever by faith. We are seated with Him in the heavenly places!

But, how do we walk upon this pathway? Feeding upon Him is not with the mouth of flesh, but faith is the mouth that feeds upon Christ. So, also, faith is the feet by which we enter through the veil. Our passage says that this drawing near is “with a true heart” and explains this further as being “in full assurance of faith.”

So, I may draw near to God upon the pathway that is Jesus Himself, and the manner of walking on this pathway is with “a true heart.” How do I get this true heart? Our Scripture answers this too: by its being “sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with cleansing water.” That is to say: the sprinkled, true heart is the one that has believed what God proclaims in the sign of baptism… that everyone who believes in Jesus shall surely be saved.

When we come in this certainty alone, we come in a true heart. So, let us draw near to God!
Have you been baptized? What does Jesus announce in that baptism? Do you believe it?
Suggested Songs: ARP189 “Universal Praise” or HB24 “All People That on Earth Do Dwell”

Saturday, March 10, 2018

2018.03.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 10:15-18

Questions for Littles: Who witnesses to us (v15)? What did He say the Lord would make with us (v16)? What would He put on our hearts? What would He write on our minds? What would He not remember anymore (v17)? What does our forgiveness mean will no longer happen (v18)? 
In this week’s sermon text, we were reminded of the end of chapter eight: that it was always God’s plan to replace the ministry of the priests on earth with the ministry of Christ in glory.

You see, it’s not just a matter of the logic of vv11-14. That logic said, “those sacrifices that had to be repeated continually weren’t doing the job, but the sacrifice that only had to be done once must have been perfectly effective.”

No, in addition to the logic of vv11-14, we know that the Lord intended for Christ to replace the old covenant and its priesthood, because God Himself told us so. “But the Holy Spirit also bears witness…”

It is like the old story of Babe Ruth calling his shot. We know that it’s on purpose because He told us in advance what He was going to do… and then He did it!

But He doesn’t just testify that there will be a new covenant. He tells us two very important things about that new covenant.

The first is that the new covenant time would be the time in which there would be widespread love for God’s word from the heart. God is sanctifying us, making us holy.

The second is that the new covenant time would be the time of greater certainty about God’s forgiveness. Just as God “called the shot” about writing His law on our hearts, so also He has “called the shot” about completely forgiving our sins.

Can there be anything more reliable than whatever God has said? Oh, dear struggling believer, your sin troubles you so much precisely because God’s law is written on your heart. Don’t you see that this is evidence that you have been forgiven?
Which of your sins bothers you the most? Who made it bother you so much?
Suggested Songs: ARP51A “God, Be Merciful to Me” or HB276 “There Is a Fountain”

Friday, March 9, 2018

2018.03.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 10:32-45

Questions for Littles: Where were the disciples amazed to see Jesus going (v32)? What had the leaders in Jerusalem been wanting to do to Jesus? How did the disciples feel as they followed? What does Jesus tell them will happen to Him in vv33-34? What do James and John want (v35-37)? What does Jesus ask them if they are able to do in v38? Who says that they will in fact do it in v39? How do the ten respond in v41? What does Jesus say that those who desire to become great should do in v43? What does Jesus say that those who desire to be first should be in v44? Who came to give His life a ransom for many (v45)? What did He not come to do? 
In the Gospel reading this week, we come to what is perhaps the key passage in the entire book: “for even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

It is, quite literally, amazing that the Lord Jesus would do this. In fact, that’s how we start off the passage.

It’s kind of a strange scene. Jesus is out in front, heading for Jerusalem. The disciples are kind of hanging back, not sure what to make of it. The leaders in Jerusalem have been looking for a way to kill Jesus. But there He is, out walking in front of them, headed straight to His death.

This time, it’s not Peter but rather James and John who correctly understand neither Christ nor themselves. Apparently, they had decided that Jesus was headed to Jerusalem to get glory. This was the only thing that seemed to make sense to them.

So, they run up ahead to catch up with Jesus, and ask if that can be a permanent arrangement. The problem is that Jesus isn’t going to Jerusalem to sit on a throne but to hang on a cross.

That’s basically Jesus’s point, when He asks about the cup and the baptism. The “sacrament” that is the sign and seal of His glory is His suffering and crucifixion!

“Yes,” Jesus says, “you will indeed suffer alongside me.” But, it won’t be this time around. There are two thieves for whom that is reserved. James and John will have to wait until later.

We serve a suffering Savior. He didn’t come to be served, but to give His life as a ransom. Let us not be surprised, since we walk with Him, if our lives include much suffering for His sake. Let us be eager for that sweet fellowship with Christ that comes not from being admired and catered to, but by being servants!
What opportunities do you have to serve as a slave? To suffer for Christ?
Suggested songs: ARP191 “I Love the Lord” or HB435 “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord”

Thursday, March 8, 2018

2018.03.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 12:3-13

Questions for Littles: Through what does Paul speak in v3? What does he tell us not to do? How does he tell us to think? What has God dealt to each of us a measure of? What do we, as many members, form all together (v4-5)? Of whom are we members (end of v5)? What gifts are listed in v6-13? For each one, consider whether it is a gift that only some believers have, or whether it is a gift that all believers have (parents will have to do and explain this for you). 
In this week’s Epistle reading, we continue to hear about what it means to be a living sacrifice. One thing it means is to realize that whatever our circumstances in God’s providence, we are to employ what we are and what have in service of other Christians.

The apostle puts this most strongly when he says that we are members of one another. God has given him grace to be writing the book of Romans. This is not some great attribute or accomplishment of Paul’s. It is the grace of God!

In fact, it is a grace of God that is not for Paul himself. Notice that he keeps saying “we” … “we” … “we” … Paul feels obligated to them that whatever God is doing in him and through him is really for the sake of the church.

That’s true here as well. Notice though that these gifts are not all “superpowers,” but many of them are things that we are all commanded to do: serving, encouraging, giving, showing mercy, loving, hating evil, clinging to good, kind affection, preferring others to ourselves, etc., etc.

This is the first great lesson of being a living sacrifice: we do not exist for ourselves. Our circumstances are for the church. Our experiences are for the church. Our obediences are for the church.

“Spiritual gifts” means that we do not belong to ourselves. We are a gift to one another. Scripture simply doesn’t recognize lone-ranger or private Christians. The reason why we must practice formal church membership—not just in taking vows but especially in keeping them—is because the Bible teaches that God saves us into church membership.
In what circumstances do you find yourself? How can you serve the body?

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

2018.03.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 16:16-17:27

Questions for Littles: How old was Abram in 16:26? How old is he in 17:1? What does God call Himself in 17:1? What does He tell Abram to do? What does God promise to make with Abram in 17:2? What does God change Abram’s name to in v5? What does it mean? What does God promise about the number and greatness of Abraham’s descendants in v6-7? What does He promise that they will possess in v8? What does God command as the sign of the covenant in v9-13? What penalty does God command for refusing the sign of the covenant in v14? Who else gets a name change in v15? What does God promise to give to Abraham by her (v16)? What does Abraham fall on his face and do in his joy (v17, cf. Rom 4:19-21)? For whom else does Abraham pray in v18? Does this change God’s plan about Sarah (v19)? How, then, does God answer Abraham’s prayer for Ishmael (v20)? When God finishes talking with him, what does Abraham do (v23-27)?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, a long silence is broken. Can you imagine living with your greatest mistake for 13 years, and no word from God (that we know of)? By the time chapter 17 comes around, Ishmael is coming into his manhood, and all of the wildness and difficulty that God had prophesied about him was surely displaying itself.

So after 13 years of becoming more and more acquainted with the effects of his sin, God suddenly appears to Abraham, with this opening line: I AM GOD ALMIGHTY!!!

Now there’s good cause for a heart attack. If you’ve spent the last more than a decade living in the mess you made with your sin, the last thing that you want to hear is, “I am God Almighty!”

But the next line is wonderful, “Walk before Me, and be blameless.”

Do you see what God did there? Abraham is well aware that he cannot walk before God and be blameless by the power of Abraham. So, God invites Abraham to do so by the power of God.

Some things seem too good to believe. So, what does God do? He enters into a covenant marked by a sign that announces that those who are fathered by men need that connection cut away, and to be made alive instead by the power of God.

The sign isn’t for God—He already believes Himself, so much as it is for us. But God is deadly serious about that sign! He will respond to it. And He will respond to the lack of it.

We know from Romans 4 that Abraham’s laughing in this chapter is not like the unbelieving laughter of Sarah in chapter 18. Instead, it is the laughter of someone who has come into such good news that he is bursting out laughing with joyful astonishment!

Still, Abraham has been a father for 13 years already. His heart is rightfully attached to his son Ishmael. Behold the mercy of God—that although the plan of God for the covenant must be carried out, He still incorporates a blessing upon Ishmael for Abraham’s sake.

For his part, Abraham is quick to obey. After 13 years, he doesn’t stew over his failure but diligently carries out the command that same day. With the promises that we have received, shouldn’t we obey like that too?
In what situation do you need to remember that repenting is by God’s strength?
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or HB144 “I Greet Thee Who My Sure Redeemer Art”

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

2018.03.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Revelation 5:8-14

Questions for Littles: What had Jesus taken in v8? What do the four living creatures and twenty-four elders do when they see this? What does v8 call Jesus? What does a harp represent? What does the verse tell us the bowls of incense represent? What kind of song did they sing in v9? What did they say Jesus was worthy to do? Why do they say that He is worthy? What has Jesus made out of those whom He has redeemed (v10)? What does John see in v11? How many angels were there? What were they saying in v12? With what kind of voice? How many of the creatures in heaven were doing so (v13)? How many of those on the earth? How many of those under the earth? How many of those in the sea? To whom were they shouting this blessing and honor and glory and power? What did the four living creatures say in v14? What did the twenty-four elders do? What does v14 call Jesus? 
This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation, and Confession of Sin came from Revelation 5:8-14, in order to sing God’s thoughts after Him with All Hail the Power of Jesus’s Name.

That first word is a little one, but its meaning is a doozy. All. Every. Single. One. As in every knee shall bow and every tongue confess.

I wonder if you have ever considered the amplitude of the sound waves involved in Philippians 2:10.
Even before we get to v13, our eardrums have exploded. Hundreds of millions of angels—the great warriors of heaven… and each of them using a loud voice.

But then we get to v13, and it is as if the creatures of this creation are seeking to drown out the angels. Every last one is shouting in unison, “Blessing and honor and glory and power…” We cannot imagine what a cannon roar, what a tidal wave of sound, is involved in every word here!

What is the occasion for this super-sound of praise? Well, you can see it explicitly in v9, “You have redeemed us to God by Your blood.” And you can see it implicitly even just in the name by which the Lord Jesus is called.

The Lamb. The Lamb who was slain. Him who sits on the throne and the Lamb. How will we respond, when our remaining sin has been done away with, and we are glorified in righteousness? By shouting the praises of Jesus at the top of our lungs!
How exuberant will our praise be in glory? Why isn’t it more so now?
Suggested songs: ARP99 “Let the Nations Tremble” or HB132 “All Hail the Power of Jesus’s Name”

Monday, March 5, 2018

2018.03.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 10:11-14

Questions for Littles: What kind of sacrifices does every priest repeatedly offer (v11)? What can they never do? How many sacrifices did this one offer (v12)? For how long is it good? Where did He sit down? What is He waiting for (v13)? What has He done forever to those who are being sanctified (v14)?
In the sermon this week, we came to the conclusion of the major point of the book of Hebrews.

First, we see the greatness of the glory of the Lord Jesus. He is not like other priests who continually offer. He offered only once. He is not like the other priests whose sacrifices were never enough. His sacrifice was more than enough forever.

But there is a greater glory still, and one that we saw in the first two chapters of the book: Jesus is the living God. He is the One who sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

We’ve been focusing so much upon the value of His work these last couple months that we’re due for a good reminder of the value of His Person.

He is worthy of the throne. He is the One before whom every knee will bow and every tongue confess. Dear Christian, how often do you fall on your face before Christ and just worship Him as the Living God?

To do so is a joy all by itself, but it is also a preparation for when you will need great comfort from Him. Whether you are facing other trials, or whether it is the greatest trial for a true Christian (consciousness of your own sin), you will want to enter it prepared.

If the greatness of the worthiness of Christ has made little impression upon you, then it will impress you rather little that He is the One who gave Himself for you, and that He is the One who is making you holy, and that He is the One who is preserving You forever.

But, if your heart is in the habit of adoring His worth, then that comfort will be ready for you in your time of need. Adore Him!
When do you adore Christ as God? What does it look like to do so?
Suggested Songs: ARP24 “The Earth and the Riches” or HB132 “All Hail the Power of Jesus’s Name”

Saturday, March 3, 2018

2018.03.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 10:5-10

Questions for Littles: When Christ came into the world, what did He say that God did not desire (v5)? What did He say that God had prepared for Him instead? In what did He say that God had no pleasure (v6)? Of whom was it written in the scroll of the book (v7)? Who had come to do God’s will? What did God do to the old sacrifices (v8-9)? What did He establish instead? What did God will to be the way that we would be sanctified (made holy, v10)?
In this week’s sermon text, we learned what (Whom!) Psalm 40:6-8 is all about: the Lord Jesus and His sacrifice!

Now, it’s true that David originally wrote those words. And God “dug out ears” for David, just as He did 1000 years later for Christ. But the problem with David’s ears is that they did not listen like they should. He would write, later in that Psalm, “My iniquities have gone over my head.”

So, who is the One about whom the book says that He would actually come and do God’s will? That He would be perfectly obedient, and that His obedience would put an end to all other sacrifices?

Our passage answers: that was about Jesus. In fact, we can understand v5 very literally as something that Jesus said. As He grew in wisdom, and stature, and in favor with God and with men, Jesus realized that these verses from Psalm 40 were about Himself.

Wonderful finality! Have you ever had a problem that you tried one thing after another, and nothing worked? Our being cleansed as holy from our sin is just such a problem.

But God had a plan. God had a will for how we would be cleansed as holy from our sin: He would prepare a body for His own Son. And His Son would come and be obedient… especially the obedience of going to the cross, and offering upon that cross, once for all, the body that had been prepared for Him.

You remember Jesus’s prayer: “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” (Jn 12:27-28)

We can be absolutely certain of salvation through the death of Christ, because this has always been God’s only plan for our cleansing. Are you clean?
How have you responded to what has God accomplished for you in the death of Jesus Christ?
Suggested Songs: ARP51A “God, Be Merciful to Me” or HB276 “There Is a Fountain”

Friday, March 2, 2018

2018.03.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 10:17-31

Questions for Littles: Whom did the man in v17 call “Good Teacher”? What does Jesus ask Him in v18? What is Jesus’ answer, in v19, for what to “do” to inherit eternal life? How long does the man say that he has done these things (v20)? What does Jesus tell him is the one thing left to do in v21? How does the man feel when he hears this, and what does he do (v22)? Why is he so sad? What does Jesus say is hard (v23)? What does Jesus say that people like this man trust in, in v24 (NKJV)? What does He say is easier than for a rich man to enter the kingdom (v25)? What, then, do the disciples ask in v26? With whom does Jesus say it is possible (v27)? Whom does Peter think have done better than the rich man (v28)? What does Jesus assure Peter, now in this time, about the things that he thought he had given up (v29-30)? What else do we receive in this life? What do we receive in the age to come? What surprise does Jesus predict in v31?
In the Gospel reading this week, we have two interesting examples of those who think that they can do something to inherit eternal life.

The first is obvious: the man who thought he had kept all of God’s commandments from his childhood. At least that’s what he said. But, he’s here asking Jesus, so it’s obvious he’s missing something.

The great thing that he is missing is that Jesus is God, become a man, to save us from our sins. When Jesus said that “only God is good,” He was showing that the rich young man didn’t think that Jesus was God.

It’s interesting that the man does not seem so bothered by the instruction to “take up the cross.” Since Jesus had not yet been crucified, this seems like it would be the most startling command! Instead, the man is sad because of his many possessions.

Oh, let us beware of how we fall in love with earthly things, comforts, and pleasures! Let us constantly be mindful of Christ’s surpassing value, that we would cling to Him so tightly that we hold only comparatively loosely any other thing!

Then, there’s Peter, making the same mistake. He thinks that he will be praised for having outdone the rich man. Jesus’s answer is that Peter really hasn’t given up anything. In fact, he has enriched himself 100 times over by clinging to Christ!

Yes, there is one sense in which he has sacrificed. But the sacrifice itself is great gain. Even being persecuted is a privilege that is granted. Christianity is not “giving stuff up now to get stuff later.” Christianity is being 100 times more blessed now, and infinitely more in the next life!

To have Christ is to have every good thing. We do not do Him good. He does every good for us, and to us, and through us. He alone is good. Let us cling to Him!
What does it look like to cling to Christ instead of ideas of your own goodness?
Suggested songs: ARP32A “What Blessedness” or HB271 “Rock of Ages”

Thursday, March 1, 2018

2018.03.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 11:33-12:2

Read Romans 11:33-12:2
Questions for Littles: Whose wisdom is deeply rich (v33)? Whose knowledge is deeply rich? Whose judgments are unsearchable? Whose ways are past finding out? What has no one known (v34)? What has no one become? What has no one done first (v35) so that the Lord has never “repaid” anyone? Of whom are all things (v36)? Through whom are all things? To whom are all things? What is to be given unto God forever? What are we to do by the mercies of God (12:1)? What are we to present to Him? As what kind of sacrifice? What kind of service is this? To what are we not to be conformed (v2)? By what are we to be transformed? When we live this way, what do we prove about God’s will?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we come to a transition point in the entire book of Romans. It had taken almost six chapters to get to the first command in the entire book. And there have not been many between then and her. But now, they are going to come fast and furious.

Why wait this long to start telling us what to do? So that it will come as a worshiping response to the mercy of God! So that it will come as that “reasonable service,” that “logical worship,” the necessary outcome of realizing that God owed us nothing but has given us everything.

From Him are all things. He has made it all. And through Him are all things. We can do nothing, except by His grace. So it makes all the sense in the world that to Him would also be all things.

The question, “Do I actually realize all that God has done for me?” Can be answered by reference to the necessary response, “Am I offering body as a living sacrifice to Him?” When we realize who He is and what He has done, alongside who we are and what we have done, we will immediately renounce any claim to be our own selves.

It’s not just that we have no better gift to give Him, or that we have no other gift to give Him. The fact is, that when we realize that we have received everything from God, we will want to give everything to God and for God!

12:2 reminds us that this is exactly opposite the way of the world. After all, this is a world of those who refuse to acknowledge Him as God or give thanks (cf. 1:21). They pushed down on the knowledge of God, and He gave them over to that depraved mind of theirs.

So, we are not surprised that the first step to responding rightly to the Lord is to have our mind renewed. To have our mind renewed to acknowledge God. To have our mind renewed so that we will live our entire lives as acts of thanksgiving to God.

Of course, it is not much of a “sacrifice” on our parts to sacrifice everything for God. Why? Because His will is good and acceptable and perfect. The word translated “prove” in v2 means to discover the truth of something by the experience of it.

And that’s exactly what we discover, when we live according to God’s Word. His way is always good (the very best thing for us), and acceptable (pleasant), and perfect (effective and complete). Are you finding this out by living a life of thanks for the gospel?
In what exercises do you “renew your mind” by learning God’s Word?
Suggested songs: ARP189 “Universal Praise” or HB310 “Take My Life, and Let It Be”

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

2018.02.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 16

Questions for Littles: What hadn’t Sarai, Abram’s wife, done (v1)? What did she have? Whom did Sarai say had kept her from bearing children (v2)? By whom did she suggest that Abram produce a child? What did Abram listen to? What did Sarai do with Hagar in v3? How long had Abram lived in Canaan at this point? What happened to Sarai, in Hagar’s eyes, when Hagar became pregnant with a baby (v4)? What did Sarai say to Abram, when Hagar looked down on her (v5)? What did Abram do to Hagar in v6? What did Sarai do? How did Hagar respond? Who finds her in the wilderness (v7)? What does He call her? What does He ask her? How does Hagar answer? What does the Angel of Yahweh command in v9? What does He promise her that He will do in v10? What is she to call her child (v11)? Why? What does Yahweh say about the child in v12? What does Hagar call Yahweh in v13? What else came to be known by that name (v14)? How old was Abram when Ishmael was born (v15-16)?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, the Lord displayed Himself as the God who hears and the God who sees… and is still gracious!

It’s that last part that is so amazing. We don’t have a very flattering picture of our father in the faith in this chapter. He lets his wife take the lead and accepts her sinful plan. He commits adultery. When the results aren’t what she had hoped, he doesn’t protect the vulnerable woman in his home, but hands her over to harsh treatment.

And all of this, while we are being reminded that Yahweh is the God who hears and the God who sees. Surely, the Lord’s choosing and calling are entirely by grace!!

Such a merciful, forgiving God is surely worthy of our patience. It had been ten years since Abram entered the land. That is true. But, Abram had also received that glorious covenant ceremony in chapter 15! And, if they were really recognizing that it was the Lord who was closing Sarai’s womb, would it make any sense to try and fulfill God’s promises themselves by sinning?

I’m afraid that all of our sin is like that. The Lord has already promised us every blessing in heaven and on earth in Christ Jesus. So, whenever we sin in order to try to get something (or get out of something), aren’t we basically saying, “I don’t trust you to bless me; so, I’m taking matters into my own hands”?!

Our sin sure is ugly, when we consider it. But, the whole point of this passage is that God was bringing Christ into the world—even through such a family as this. He is always truly the One who has matters in His hands.

Sometimes, He commands us to do right but difficult things, like “Go back to the person who is in authority over you, even though they recently haven’t been treating you well.” But He always does so in the midst of abundant promises that find their “Yes” and “Amen” in Christ. Ought we not patiently obey such a gracious God?!
In what situation right now, do you most need the reminder to patiently obey? Then how will you remind yourself of God’s promises in Christ?
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or HB144 “I Greet Thee Who My Sure Redeemer Art”

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

2018.02.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 99

Questions for Littles: Who reigns (v1)? Who should tremble? Where does the Lord dwell? What should be shaken/moved? Where, especially, is the Lord seen to be great (v2)? High above whom is the Lord (v2b)? What great and awesome thing should the peoples praise (v3)? What loves justice (v4a)? What has He established and executed? Where? Whose God does v5 command to exalt? Where should we worship Him (v5b)? Why (v5c)? What three men have been among the Lord’s priests (v6)? What did they do? How did the Lord respond? How has God spoken to Jacob (v7)? Who was God to them (v8)? What should we do with the Lord our God (v9)? Where? Why? 
This week’s Call to Worship and Invocation came from Psalm 99, in order to sing God’s thoughts after Him with Rejoice, the Lord Is King!

There are many reasons in this Psalm to rejoice that it is indeed Yahweh who is King. The repeated refrain is that He is holy. Yahweh alone is God, there is no other. He alone is Creator. Everyone and everything else is just a creature.

But what are some of the ways that God displays this earth-shaking (v1) holiness?

One is by choosing a particular people for Himself. The Lord calls is people Zion in v2, and there is something very precious about being able to call Him “our” God… it shouts out our covenant relationship wherein He is our God, and we are His specially chosen people.

Why did He choose us? Certainly not for any good in us! v4 is really quite astonishing. The Lord has established and executed equity, justice, and righteousness in Jacob. Jacob? Really? His name had been changed to “Israel,” but the Lord keeps using the name that means “Heel [grabber]”—i.e. supplanter, deceiver, con artist, shyster. The Lord certainly has not chosen us because of any good in us!!

Why, then, has He chosen us? The answer is in another name, this time in v8. The Lord answers Moses, Aaron, Samuel, indeed any or all of His people, in order to make Himself known as “God-Who-Forgives.” What a blessed name!

When you see the filthiness of your sin, and groan under the weight of the fact that you continue to commit it, let this be a healing balm to your soul: the Lord knew this is what it would be like; He chose to love you, because He loves to love you; He loves to announce and display that He is “God-Who-Forgives.”

This is the great subject of the worship “between the cherubim” (v1), “in Zion (v2), “at His footstool” (v5), and “at His holy hill” (v9). Each of these is a reference to corporate worship.

When we understand His love for His people, and His display of Himself in relationship with His people, we are no longer satisfied merely with individual worship. Each week, we are eager for the Lord’s Day gatherings, and our whole lives long we are eager to join that great congregation in glory!
When have you most needed to call upon “God-Who-Forgives”?
Suggested songs: ARP99A “Let the Nations Tremble” or HB11 “Holy, Holy, Holy!”

Monday, February 26, 2018

2018.02.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 10:1-4

Questions for Littles: What did the law have a shadow of (v1)? What did the law not have? What were offered the same, year after year? What could these sacrifices not do for those who drew near through them? If the Old Testament sacrifices could perfect the worshipers, what would have ceased (v2)? So, what did the sacrifices remind them of, year after year (v3)? What does v4 say is impossible? 
In the sermon this week, we heard about the same sacrifices being offered, year after year. We could almost hear the child asking the questions, “Why do we have to go back? Aren’t our sins already forgiven? If they’re not, then aren’t they still going to not be forgiven this time too?”

Those are all excellent questions. The fact is that, according to our Scripture passage today, those sacrifices could not take away sins.

As for the answer to why continue to do them, that one’s easy: because God said so! Now, here’s a little harder question: why did God say so?

We can see the biggest answer in v10: so that Jesus Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice would be displayed to be infinitely glorious and infinitely better than any other sacrifice, and than every other sacrifice!

But, in our passage today, we can see another answer in v3: so that they would be reminded of their sins every year. Every year, they would keep the feasts. Every year, there would be the day of atonement. Every year, there would be a reminder that sin had not yet been dealt with.

But it wasn’t just their sacrifices, then, that they were being reminded could not cleanse them from sin. Nothing else that they did could cleanse them from sin!

Dear reader, that is a most important lesson for you as well! There is absolutely nothing that you or I can do to be cleansed from sin. We want to think there is. Maybe if we are serious enough about repenting. Maybe if we are sorry enough about our sin. Maybe if… NO! Stop! Whatever it is, it cannot do it!

One of the main points of the Old Testament sacrificial system was to announce both to them and to us that only Jesus’s sacrifice could pay for sins. Are we listening?
What kinds of things do you feel like trying to do when you feel guilty? Can those things ever make up for your sin? Upon what hope must you rest instead?
Suggested Songs: ARP32A “What Blessedness” or HB271 “Rock of Ages”

Saturday, February 24, 2018

2018.02.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 9:23-28

Questions for Littles: What were purified with calf-blood, goat-blood, scarlet wool, and hyssop (v23)? With what were the heavenly things cleansed? Who did not enter holy places made with hands (v24)? Of what were those places copies? Into where itself has Christ entered? Where does Christ now appear? What isn’t Christ doing often in Heaven (v25)? Who did enter the Holy of Holies every year with the blood of another? If Christ needed to repeat His sacrifice, since when would He have had to offer Himself often (v26)? When did Christ appear to put away sin? How did Christ put away sin? What is appointed for men to do once (v27)? What comes next after a man dies? Who was offered once (v28)? What was Christ offered once to do? To whom will Christ appear a second time? Will it be to bear sin? What will it be for?
In this week’s sermon text, we heard about several things that Christ doesn’t do.
Christ did not enter the holy places made with hands. Those were just copies.

Christ did not offer Himself repeatedly for every generation that needed it. If He had done that, He would have had to do so continually since the foundation of the world.

Christ will not appear the second time to bear sins. That was a once-only appointment.

Often, the Lord highlights things for us by contrast. In this case, all of these things that Christ doesn’t do serve to highlight the glories of what Christ does do.

If Christ does not enter the holy places made with hands, where does He enter? The true heaven itself of which these were copies. Where does He appear there? In the presence of God! Why is He in there in the presence of God? For us.

Now that’s a show-stopping, breath-taking, two-word sentence. For us. He is there for the glory of the Father, who sent Him in love. He is there for His own glory, as the only One who could ever have a right to be there. He is there for the glory of the Spirit, who has perfectly carried out history and especially the sustaining of Christ in His humanity.

But Christ is also in heaven for us. He is our Priest.

And why didn’t Christ offer Himself repeatedly since the foundation of the world? Because His once-for-all death would usher in the last age, the age of the gospel, the age of Christ’s Priesthood, the age of His Supper, the age of eagerly awaiting His second-coming.

We live in that glorious age. We believe that glorious gospel. We worship through that glorious Priest. We celebrate that glorious Supper. We await that glorious coming.

And why is Christ’s second appearing not for the bearing of the sins of many? Because that part of our salvation is done. Guilt is gone. And soon, sinning itself will be gone. And sorrow. And pain. And the curse. And all the works of the devil.

It is all of these other parts of His salvation that He is appearing with.

There is much that we can do to serve and glorify Christ in this life. But, there are ultimate glories that come only with Christ’s return. Are we so involved in what service the Lord give us the privilege of doing now, that we are not eagerly awaiting His appearing?
When and how do you exult in what the Lord has done? And in what He is still going to do?
Suggested Songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song to the Lord” or HB276 “There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood”

Friday, February 23, 2018

2018.02.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 10:1-16

Questions for Littles: Where does Jesus go (v1)? Who gathered to Him? What was He accustomed to do with them? What question do the Pharisees ask in v2? With what question does Jesus answer in v3? What is their answer (v4)? What does Jesus say was the reason that Moses permitted this (v5)? What does Jesus remind them that God did at the beginning of creation (v6)? How had God created man? Of what else does Jesus remind them in v7? How many does Jesus say become one flesh in v8? Whom does Jesus say is the One who joins a man and his wife together (v9)? Who ask Jesus about the same thing in v10? What does Jesus say a man does, if he divorces his wife and then remarries (v11, cf. Matt 5:32)? What does Jesus say a woman does, if she does the same (v12)? To whom do they then bring little children (v13)? What do they want Jesus to do with the children? What do the disciples do to those who brought the children? When Jesus sees it, what does He think (v14)? To whom does Jesus say that the kingdom belongs? And to whom are the children an example (v15)? What does Jesus then do with the children (v16)?
In the Gospel reading this week, we heard about two incidents in which the Lord Jesus affirms God’s valuing of marriage and children.

First, on the question of divorce, there are a couple interesting things about Christ’s answer.

There is a truth about the Mosaic civil code here that we could easily miss. God gave unto Israel laws that took into account the hardness of their hearts. If you look at the parallel in Matthew 5:32, you can see part of the “hardness of heart” Jesus is talking about. Divorce wouldn’t be necessary, but there are husbands and wives who commit adultery.

Even more interesting is the theological foundation of Jesus’s teaching on divorce. He doesn’t take us to Genesis 2 first. Jesus takes us to the creation in Genesis 1. He takes us to God creating male and female. The implication is that marriage is about man being in the image of God, man being a covenanting creature.

Only after establishing this first does Jesus take us to Genesis 2, where He twice repeats the math: 2 become 1. This math wasn’t explicit in the text of Genesis 2, but it was obviously implied. Now, Jesus gives His authoritative explanation and application of the passage. Marriage is one man, and one woman, covenanted for life.

But there’s more! Who forms this covenant? Not just the man and the woman. The Lord is the One who joins them together. Marriage is the “covenant of our God” (cf. Prov 2:17). No wonder God hates divorce! The Scripture that tells us that also tells us one of God’s great purposes for marriage: to produce a godly seed, covenant children (cf. Malachi 2:14-16).

Now, the Holy Spirit ties the two subjects together again in Mark 10. Look at how serious our Redeemer is about covenant children! He is greatly displeased with the disciples for hindering the little children of these believing parents from coming to Him.

Our Lord doesn’t just love our children because they are ours. He loves our children because they are His. Jesus points out, in v15, that children are often better examples of believers than adults. But this isn’t even His strongest statement about them.

In v14, Jesus says of such is the kingdom. These little children are kingdom citizens in their own right. They have a right of access to the King! In the end, Jesus doesn’t just touch the children as was requested. He takes them up into His arms, and lays His hands upon them, and blesses them. How much our Lord loves marriage and children!
How does your daily and weekly schedule reflect Jesus’s priority upon marriage and children?
Suggested songs: ARP128 “How Blessed Are All Who Fear the Lord” or HB455 “O Happy Home, Where Thou Art Loved”

Thursday, February 22, 2018

2018.02.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 11:1-32

Questions for Littles: Whom does Paul give as an example of an Israelite that God has not cast away (v1)? Which of the Israelites has God not cast away (v2)? What determines which Israelites will be saved (v5)? So, if the nation as a whole does not obtain salvation, who do obtain it (v7) What happened to the rest (end of v7)? Who has given them over to their blindness like that (v8-10)? What is one reason that the Lord has done this (v11)? What is one way that the Lord will bring these elect Israelites to salvation (v13-15)? What does Paul warn Gentile believers against doing in v18? What will happen to branches that do not continue in God’s goodness (v19-24)? How many of these elect Israelites will be saved (v25-29)? How does everyone whom God saves in mercy start out (v30-32)? 
In this week’s Epistle reading, we come to the conclusion of Paul’s explanation of what is happening to the Israelites.

And his explanation is that—with respect to the elect Israelites—what is happening is that they are being saved!

As we heard toward the end of chapter 9, God had determined not to leave Israel like Sodom and Gomorrah. God had determined to save a remnant. God had elected some, and He is determined that not a single elected one will perish.

What is necessary, however, is that this salvation would come not merely by being Israelite, but only by trusting in Jesus. That was the whole point of chapter 10. Salvation is by faith through hearing, not by works.

Now, in chapter 11, the Holy Spirit ties these two items together. If God has elected some Israelites, but for now they have not been saved, it is so that He might bring them to faith as a result of what He is currently doing in saving Gentiles.

It’s really a marvelous plan. It announces to us about God that He is gloriously merciful in His electing, saving love. And it announces to us about ourselves that the only way that we can be saved is through faith in Jesus Christ as a result of sovereign, electing love.

Do we know that about ourselves? We deserve to be given over to our own blindness as was justly done with those many Israelites who were not elect! But the Lord is gloriously merciful, and astonishingly wise in His plan for whom and how He saves!

God grant to us the rejoicing humility of those who are saved entirely and only by sovereign, merciful, electing grace.
When are you tempted to spiritual boastfulness? What has God given us to help against it?
Suggested songs: ARP51A “God, Be Merciful to Me” or HB402 “I Sought the Lord, and Afterward I Knew”

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

2018.02.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 15:2-21

Questions for Littles: What reason does Abram give God for why having a great reward doesn’t help him (v2-3)? From where does God say Abram’s heir will come (v4)? What does God give as a picture of how many descendants Abram will have (v5)? How was Abram accounted as righteous (v6)? After Abram already believes the Lord, what does the Lord declare in v7? What does Abram ask in v8? What does God tell Abram to bring Him (v9)? What does God tell him to do with the animals (v10)? What three things fall upon Abram in v12? What things does God promise Abram in vv13-16? Why will this not happen immediately? What happens when the sun goes down (v17)? What is God making with Abram in this ceremony (v18)? What does God promise to give him? Whose land is it currently (v19-20)? 
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we are reminded once again that God wants us to be sure of what He has promised us.

At first, Abram has a problem with the promise of God as his shield and great reward. The big problem is death. It wouldn’t matter what Abram got, if Abram would just disappear, and he doesn’t even have any descendants.

Of course, the Lord makes the fantastic promises about his descendants here. But, there is also a glorious (though subtly delivered) promise in v15. God promises something beyond death.

On one hand, Abram’s body will be buried. Not burned, but buried. When it goes into the grave, he won’t be done with it yet. Abram learns this lesson well—when his wife dies, he buys his first piece of his inheritance to bury her in it.

But the promise about his soul is even better than the one about his body. His soul will not merely disappear at death. He will go to his fathers in peace. That Hebrew word doesn’t just mean the absence of conflict. It means wholeness and wellbeing.

Abram just wanted to know about descendants. But when Abram had believed in the promise of his offspring—when Abram believed in Christ (however incomplete his understanding of Christ was at the time)—the Lord promised him eternal life!

The meat of the chapter, however, isn’t the promise. It’s the covenant ceremony that the Lord performs in order to make Abram sure of that promise. The Lord appears in enough of His glory to make great terror fall upon Abram even in a deep sleep.

But then, the covenantal passing between the cut-up animals isn’t between the Lord and Abraham. Instead, the Lord makes that covenant with Himself. It was a common ceremony: the covenanting parties walk between the animals, signifying that they are committed to this bond unto the death.

Not unto Abram’s death, however. Unto the Lord’s! By the time God is done keeping this promise, He will have to have become a man in order to be able to die.

It’s a marvelous ceremony—a marvelous display of God’s commitment to delivering upon His promises.

Dear believer, the Lord doesn’t just want you to believe Him. He wants strengthen your confidence in His promises until it has grown up into a full assurance of faith.
What use are we making of the things that the Lord gave us to stir up our assurance?
Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly I Am with You” or HB303 “Be Thou My Vision”

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

2018.02.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 15:22-41

Questions for Littles: Whom did they bring to Golgotha (v22)? What did Jesus do, when they offered Him the wine that would decrease the pain (v23)? What did they do with His clothing (v24)? What did the inscription of the accusation say (v26)? Whom did they crucify with Him (v27)? What did the Scripture that this fulfilled say (v28)? What did people mock Him and tempt Him to do in v29-30? Who else mocked Him with the same temptation (v31-32)? Who else even reviled Him (end of v32)? How long was there darkness (v33)? What does Jesus cry out at that point (v34)? What do people think Jesus is doing (v35-36)? What does Jesus do in v37? What happens in the temple in v38? What does the centurion say when He sees Jesus’s dying cry and breath (v39)? Who were looking on from afar (v40)? What had they done (v41)?
This week’s Invocation and Confession of Sin came from Mark 15:22-41.

In this particular picture of the crucifixion, the Holy Spirit focuses upon Christ’s insistence upon suffering for His people. He is King, and He is going to the cross like a King.

He refuses to take the wine with myrrh that would dull the pain. His purpose for coming was to endure that pain in our place.

He refuses the temptation of those who throw His words back in His face. It is a temptation from Satan, very much like Satan’s quotes of Scripture during the temptation in the wilderness.

He refuses the temptation from the priests and scribes. Behold our King on the cross, in the midst of His greatest trial and agony, He is refusing temptation with Kingly dignity!

Even His endurance of the darkness is kingly. God literally turns the Aaronic blessing inside out against Christ: Yahweh curse You and destroy You! Yahweh hide His face from You in darkness and pour out wrath upon You. Yahweh frown upon You and give You Hell.

The Lord Jesus endures this darkness, from noon until three p.m. Three hours, He bore up under God’s wrath with Kingly resolve. And only after three, long hours does He cry out at the pain of being forsaken for our sin.

Considering what we’ve been learning from the book of Hebrews, isn’t it wonderful that the moment Jesus breathes His last, the temple curtain is torn in two from top to bottom?

Before the Centurion cries out in v39 that Jesus was the Son of God, God announced via that curtain that this One upon Whom He had frowned is actually His beloved Son with whom He is well-pleased.

So, how will we respond? The indifference of the soldiers gambling over the clothes just will not do.

Is that all that this crucified King means to us? An opportunity to get something from Him? God forbid!

Though, like the women, we are still afar off, let us look on with same following care as those who are committed to serving Him with our lives!
How often do you consider the cross? When you do, what are some of your responses?
Suggested songs: ARP22A “My God, My God” or HB199 “Alas! and Did My Saviour Bleed”

Monday, February 19, 2018

2018.02.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 9:16-22

Questions for Littles: When there is a testament, what does it require (v16)? What is a death required for (v17)? With what was the first covenant started (v18)? What does v19 say Moses spoke to the people? What did He sprinkle to show that the book of the covenant was now in effect? What did Moses say while He was sprinkling the book (v21)? What can’t we have forgiveness without?
In the sermon this week, we learned the background behind Matthew 26:28, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

This is vitally important to us for the cleansing of our consciences. If we were just filthy, it would be enough for us to be washed clean. But our consciences don’t just accuse us of being unclean or unworthy. Our consciences accuse us of being guilty.

It would not be enough for us to be enabled to worship for a little while, knowing that we are about to die and be punished for our sin. We need more than just cleansing and acceptance. We need forgiveness—the remitting of our sins, the canceling of our debts against the justice of God.

There were different substances that God had given for cleansing. Water was sufficient for that at some point. But water isn’t enough for starting a covenant, and water isn’t enough for the forgiveness of sins.

We needed blood: the blood not of bulls and goats but Jesus’ blood, shed for many, for the forgiveness of sins!

Jesus’s blood has taken away our sins! But it has also done one more amazing thing: it has made absolutely sure, forever and ever, every blessing of God to us, as He has promised.

A covenant had to be established with a death. It required the display of the penalty for breaking a life-and-death bond between two people. The word “testament” in v16-17 is exactly the word “covenant”—and it’s useful to us that that we still use the word when we say “Last Will and Testament.”

The provisions of such a document do not go into effect until the death has occurred.
So also the book of the covenant of Moses. So also all the promises of God that are “yes and Amen” in Christ.

He had to die, not only so that we could receive the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus also had to die so that we could receive the blessed rewards for His obedience. And that was the greatest obedience: to drink the cup that established the covenant… the cup of the wrath of God and the death of cross.

Precious blood! Precious death! It has secured everything for us! How precious is it to you?
Where do we savor the preciousness of what Christ has done for us? Do you do that there?
Suggested Songs: ARP191 “I Love the Lord” or HB448 “’Twas on That Night”

Saturday, February 17, 2018

2018.02.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 9:11-15

Questions for Littles: Who came as High Priest of the good things to come (v11)? What kind of tabernacle does He minister in? What as not used to make it? Indeed, what is it not a part of at all? With what did He enter the Most Holy Place (v12)? How often has He entered there? What kind of redemption has He obtained? What blood used to be splattered (v13)? To what ashes did this blood witness? What did all of this cleanse? By whose blood are we cleansed (v14)? Through what (Whom!) did Christ offer Himself to God? What does His blood cleanse? From what does His blood cleanse our consciences? Of what does this make Him Mediator (v15)? By what means? For the transgressions under which covenant does v15 specifically say Christ made redemption? Who from that covenant received the promised eternal inheritance?
In this week’s sermon text, we were reminded again that Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come. The sacrifices and purification rituals of the Old Testament looked forward to Him and the “good things” that He would accomplish for us.

This explains why v14 refers to them (among other things) as “dead works.” Were they sinful in and of themselves? Of course not; God had commanded them! But they were dead on two counts.

The first is that until we are enabled to believe in Christ, and receive life through union with Him, we ourselves are dead (cf. Eph 2:1). Even now, we do nothing without sin.

The second is that the works of the former time had no value in themselves, but only as they looked forward to Christ and His works, which alone have the true value (cf. Rom 3:25)

We heard in 6:1 that a foundation of Christianity is that we must turn away from these dead works as a way of being made right with God; and, we must turn instead to God’s own righteousness, provided in Christ alone, as our only way of being made right with God.

Now, we hear about having our consciences cleansed from these dead works. The question is: how can we come near to God? The old purifications were good enough for “coming near” in the earthly tabernacle. They “sanctified for the purification of the flesh.” 

But one day, we are going to have to draw near to the glorious, heavenly presence of the Living God Himself. We must not do so holding onto anything less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

So, that presses this question: what right do I have to hold onto Christ? How do I know that He will acknowledge me and save me? And the answer is: my baptism! I was sprinkled with the water of baptism at the command of Jesus whose blood shed on Calvary washes my conscience clean. In Christ and His blood, I can stand confidently, with a clear conscience, before the Living God!!

This was even the means of “redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant.” And it is our guarantee that He who has called us will surely give us our eternal inheritance—Himself!
What is your plan/habit for using your baptism to develop your sure confidence in Christ alone for your forgiveness and eternal inheritance?
Suggested Songs: ARP78B “O Come, My People” or HB198 “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”

Friday, February 16, 2018

2018.02.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 9:43-50

Questions for Littles: What should you do with even a hand that “caused” you to sin (v43)? Where is it better to go without a hand, rather than to go into hell? What never happens to the fire in hell? What never happens to their worm in hell (v44)? What should you do with even a foot that “caused” you to sin (v45)? Where is it better to go without a foot, rather than to go into hell? What never happens to the fire in hell? What never happens to their worm in hell (v46)? Where is it better to go with just one eye, rather than to be cast into hell fire (v47)? What never happens to their worm in hell (v48)? What never happens to the fire in hell? What must happen to everyone with fire (v49a)? What will happen to every sacrifice (v49b)? What must we have in ourselves (v50)? What must we have with one another?
In the Gospel reading this week, there’s a lot of warning about hell. Remember from last week, in talking about the value of Christ’s name, the Holy Spirit emphasized the value of little ones upon whom He has placed His name.

In this week’s passage, Jesus continues that theme, but turning us to consider its application to ourselves. What might cause us to stumble into sin, and by that sin to stumble into hell?

There is a popular PCA preacher who said recently that “being homosexual doesn’t send you to hell; failing to believe in Jesus does.” But we must be careful not to be wiser than the Lord (cf. 1Cor 6:9-11). Refusing to trust in Christ is certainly a sin, and those who do so will go to hell for that sin, but they will also be going to hell for all of their other sins as well.

Hell is nothing to trifle with. It is internal (worm) and external (fire), continual, retributive punishment from God. It is not simply “getting what we want, by being far from God.” No, God is everywhere (cf. Psalm 139), and the punishment in hell comes from the glory of his presence (2Thess 1:9). He compares that to being eaten alive from the inside out, and burned alive from the outside in—forever.

Yes, the righteousness and sacrifice of Christ are bigger than all of our sin. But consider this: one sin is as bad as an eternity of hell, for hell is the proper punishment of that sin. How much, then, should we do to avoid sin—we who have been saved by Christ and love Him?!

Now, the real question in this passage is: what are you willing to cut out of your life in order to stop sinning? Obviously, we are responsible for our own sin. “My hand made me do it” (or foot, or eye) is not a good excuse. And thank God for that, or else we would need to open up a triage unit for those who obeyed this passage! We cannot blame God, like Adam, “this woman that You gave me; she made me do it!”

But there are certainly situations that we choose to be in, and relationships that we choose to enter or continue that become occasions for stirring up all manner of sin within our hearts, into which situations also we commit wicked behavior.

So, we have two options for fire: purifying fire upon a life lived as a living sacrifice, or punitive fire in condemnation of a life lived for oneself. This dual use of the image of fire appears also in Matthew 3:11-12. We may not find it pleasant to endure suffering and discipline in this life, as the Lord fits us for heaven by making us holy.

But, of the two fires, that is the one that is far to be preferred. And those whose lives are living sacrifices should not be surprised when it comes. Did our Lord not suffer far more than we ever will? And has He not been comparing His suffering to ours these last several passages of this gospel?
What situational/relationship choices are you making, despite the knowledge that they lead to sin? What fire is the Lord putting you through to prepare you for glory?
Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or HB369 “How Firm a Foundation”

Thursday, February 15, 2018

2018.02.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 10:14-21

Questions for Littles: What do people need to do with Christ before they can call on Him (v14)? But what must happen first if they are going to believe in Him? And what can’t they hear Him without? What needs to happen for a preacher to preach (v15)? What do the beautiful-footed people of v15 preach? What do they bring? But what have not all done (v16)? By what does faith come (v17)? By what does hearing come? Who have heard (v18)? How did Moses say God would provoke Israel to jealousy (v19)? How would God move Israel to anger? By whom did Isaiah say that God would be found (v20)? To whom did he say that God would be made manifest? What had God stretched out to Israel all day long (v21a)? What does He call them in v21b?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we get another answer to why Israel hasn’t believed: because they can’t. They are a disobedient and contrary people.

The chapter 9 answer had been that not all who are descended from Israel are Israel, but only specifically those whom God has chosen. Fair enough. He’s the Potter; we are the clay.

But now we see why this election was so necessary: because if God doesn’t supernaturally give us hearing hearts by His Word, we cannot actually hear, believe, or call upon His Name to be saved. And God has to send the preacher with that hearing-giving Word in the first place.

So, there are two absolutely necessary gifts there—as evidenced by what Isaiah had prophesied about God holding His hands out all day to this people. The fact was that, unless God made them able to respond, the gospel could be continuously offered, and they would never believe.

That’s deeply sobering, and it ought to make us cry out to God for grace to change our hearts. And, for us who have believed, it also makes us cry out to Him in thankfulness.

God specifically chose to make Himself seen and found by people who were not looking for Him. He did it to show that His salvation is 100% of grace. There is no such thing as a seeker, whom God has not first supernaturally made to seek.

So, dear Christian, what did you have to do with your salvation? You were responsible for the sin of which you needed to be forgiven, and the weakness—indeed death—from which you needed to be resurrected!
How does this passage exclude spiritual pride? How will you use it to do so?
Suggested songs: ARP51A “God, Be Merciful to Me” or HB402 “I Sought the Lord, and Afterward I Knew”

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

2018.02.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 14:17-15:1

Questions for Littles: Who went out to meet Abram in v17? Where did he meet him? Whom had Abram just defeated? What other king came out (v18)? Of what/where was He king? What did He bring out? Of whom was He priest? What did Melchizedek do to Abram in v19? By whom did He declare Abram to be blessed? What did He call God? Of what did He say that God is the Possessor? Whom else did He bless in v20? What did He say that God had done? How does Abram respond to the blessing (end of v20)? What other king now talks to Abram in v21? What does he propose to take from Abram? What does he propose to give Abram? What does Abram call God in v22? Of what does Abram say that God is the Possessor? By whom alone is Abram willing to say that he has been blessed (v23)? What does Abram refuse to take? Whom else does Abram point out that they have a right to a portion (v24)? Finally, what King speaks to Abram in 15:1? What does He tell Abram not to do? Whom does He say will be Abram’s shield? Whom does He say will be Abram’s reward?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we find what is something of a familiar text because of our time in Hebrews 5-8. Melchizedek appears (with no beginning or end, and no genealogy!) as the Priest of God Most High.

He’s also the King of Salem. He’s also the prophet who teaches Abram to call God, “God Most High,” to identify God as the “Possessor of the heavens and the earth,” and to acknowledge God alone as the One who has blessed him.

Prophet, Priest, and King—it is clear that Melchizedek is a foreshadowing of Christ. But there is something more here. For, these were roles that Abram enjoyed to one extent or another on the earth, as God’s chosen covenant mediator, the one in whom all the families of the earth would be blessed.

But, as Hebrews teaches us, Melchizedek is obviously greater than Abram, being the One who blesses him and receives a tithe from him.

At any rate, Abram learns well from Melchizedek, and it is a very important lesson. For, Abram has just defeated one multi-king alliance in the world war, and he is about to offend the other multi-king alliance from that world war. And, to top it all off, he is going to decline any revenue from what was a very expensive campaign for himself.

But, he follows Melchizedek’s lead and puts his trust in the Lord. What a marvelous affirmation it is, then, when in the very next verse, “After these things, the word of Yahweh came to Abram…”

Who will protect Abram, having offended every major king in the known world? Yahweh says, “I will be your shield.” If God is for us, who can be against us?

What reward will Abram have, having given up his share of the spoil, even though he had expended such cost? Yahweh says, “I will be your exceedingly great reward.” He is the pearl of great price!
In what current situation do you need to remember that God is your shield and reward?
Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly I Am with You” or HB303 “Be Thou My Vision”

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

2018.02.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 124

Questions for Littles: Who had been on their side (v1)? What was Israel commanded to do about this? When had the Lord been on their side (v2)? What would have happened if the Lord hadn’t been on their side (v3-5)? Over what, specifically, would the stream and the swollen waters have gone (v4-5)? Whom are believers to bless for their survival (v6)? In what do believers sometimes find themselves (v7)? And yet, even when they find themselves in such circumstances, in what is their help (v8a)? Why is that such a great help—what powerful thing has He done (v8b)? 
This week’s Call to Worship and Invocation came from Psalm 124, verse 8 of which has been used weekly for the Call to Worship in some Reformed churches for almost 500 years.

This Psalm gives us a heads up on what to be preparing for whenever we come into a trial that is so severe that we might describe it as having had our soul caught in a snare(v7!). Sometimes, in the Christian life, it feels like our soul is trapped in a rushing stream as the water slowly rises and is about to go over our heads (v4-5!).

What’s God’s plan? Could He possibly have a plan in such a situation?! Well, His plan is for us to worship Him. “Let Israel now say” (v1) … “Blessed be Yahweh” (v6).

He is the faithful Lord who, for His own sake, even though we deserve the opposite, saves us out of every trouble, in order to put His heaven-and-earth-creating power on display.

It seems silly to us, during our sane moments before the Lord in His Word and in prayer, that we fret so much in the midst of the trial—as if something strange or surprising were happening!

But we do. And, it’s for times like those that the Lord has given us Psalms like this one.

Even if it’s wicked men who have intentionally risen up against us, their actions are not outside the sovereign control of God, our Savior.

He’s just getting us ready to go to church, and sing together, “Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made the heavens and the earth.”
From what troubles has the Lord saved You? What trouble are you in now?
Suggested songs: ARP124 “Unless the Lord Had Been There” or HB357 “Now Israel May Say”

Monday, February 12, 2018

2018.02.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1Peter 3:18-22

Questions for Littles: Who suffered for sins (v18)? How many times? Who was just, and who was unjust? Why did He suffer? What happened to Him in the flesh? By Whom was He made alive? To whom had He previously preached (v19)? In what days had He preached (v20)? What was being prepared at that time? How many were saved? Through what? What is the antitype to the salvation of the ark (v21)? How does baptism not save us? What part of us does it make good by enabling it to give an answer to God? Through whose resurrection does Baptism do this for us? Where has He gone now (v22)? At whose right hand is He? Who is subject to Him? 
In the sermon this week, we made reference to the parallel passage in 1Peter 3:18-22. There, to suffering believers who need comfort and assurance, Peter points to the resurrected High Priest, who offered Himself once for all for sins, and sat down at the right hand of God.

Just as in our Hebrews passage, Peter talks about the cleansing of the conscience before God. That is, of course, the most necessary assurance and comfort that we all need.

Sometimes, we get short-sighted and think that what I really need is assurance and comfort about my current situation. But the greatest assurance and comfort that I need is that God’s justice and wrath have been satisfied concerning my sin.

And we have this, because the resurrected Christ has both poured out His Spirit upon us and commanded that the waters of baptism also be poured out upon us.

How were Noah and his family sure that God was saving them? They had the ark. Now, it certainly would have been foolish of them to put their hope in the ark! No, the ark was just one part of the means that God was using to save them.

So now, we have the real mccoy to which the ark pointed forward: union with Jesus Christ, as He announces to us in our baptisms. It would be ridiculous for us to trust in our baptism, when that baptism is directing us to trust only in Christ, who has given that baptism to us!

How do we know that He has finished atoning for sin? He was resurrected! How do we know that He has the authority to rule and overrule all things for our good? Even in His human nature, He sits upon the throne, at God’s right hand.

Angels, authorities, and powers are worshiping subjects at the feet of a Man in heaven. How much more, then, shall we trust in and worship Him!
In what current situation do you need to respond to your baptism for comfort and assurance? How often do you contemplate your baptism?
Suggested Songs: ARP24 “The Earth and the Riches” or HB368 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

Saturday, February 10, 2018

2018.02.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 9:11-15

Questions for Littles: Who came as High Priest of the good things to come (v11)? What kind of tabernacle does He minister in? What as not used to make it? Indeed, what is it not a part of at all? With what did He enter the Most Holy Place (v12)? How often has He entered there? What kind of redemption has He obtained? What blood used to be splattered (v13)? To what ashes did this blood witness? What did all of this cleanse? By whose blood are we cleansed (v14)? Through what (Whom!) did Christ offer Himself to God? What does His blood cleanse? From what does His blood cleanse our consciences? Of what does this make Him Mediator (v15)? By what means? For the transgressions under which covenant does v15 specifically say Christ made redemption? Who from that covenant received the promised eternal inheritance?
In the Scripture for the sermon this week, the Lord said something amazing about the tabernacle and sacrificial system of the Old Testament. He called them dead works!

Why were they dead? Because they couldn’t accomplish the cleansing of sin. It required Jesus’s death as the Mediator of the new covenant, just to provide redemption for the transgressions under the first covenant.

By this definition, all of our works are dead. Nothing we do can ever atone for sin. Nothing we do can ever provide redemption. This is why when God was talking about how our being made right with Him is all about Jesus, in 6:1 He called the first part of the foundation of the faith, “repentance from dead works and faith toward God.”

That is to say: the very first foundation of our faith is giving up the idea that we can ever do anything to make up for our sin, and holding on to Jesus (as the only One) and His death (as the only thing) that could ever take away the guilt and uncleanness of our sin.

And every time the Lord adds a person to His church, He holds up a giant sign of this fact: “This is how I promise to save you!” What is that sign?

Well, it’s not the sprinkling of goat’s blood. That was an Old Covenant sign that reminded the people that the same goat’s blood was on the altar the inner room of the tent—that they were represented by blood sacrifice before God.

And, it’s not the cutting away of flesh in a bloody ceremony that reminds us that we need the deadness of our hearts removed, because the human man who fathered us deserved for us to be dead sinners.

Now, when the Lord adds someone to His church, He declares “This is how I promise to save you!” by the splattering of water, not blood. The blood has been spilled once, and the Lamb who was slain is our Mercy Seat to this day, sitting upon the throne in glory!

But the water is splattered down here on earth to remind us that He gives us an interest in His sacrifice, a participation in His sacrifice, not by a priest on earth splattering us with blood, but by our Great High Priest in heaven pouring out His Spirit upon us!

Now, nothing would make less sense than trusting in a sign that says “Trust in Christ!!” But to those who trust in Him, nothing is more comforting than a sign that shouts, “This is how I promise to save you!” Let us refuse to hope in anything else!
What are some things that we slide into treating as if they keep us right with God? How does remembering your baptism help steer you away from that?
Suggested Songs: ARP78B “O Come, My People” or HB198 “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”