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”