Saturday, April 28, 2018

2018.04.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 11:20-22

Questions for Littles: Whose faith does v20 describe? Whom did Isaac bless by faith? Concerning what did Isaac bless them? Whose faith does v21 describe? When does he demonstrate that faith? Whom does he bless? What else does he do when he blesses them? Whose faith does v22 describe? When does he demonstrate that faith? Of what does he make mention? Concerning what does he give instructions? 
In the second half of week’s sermon text, the demonstration of faith shifts from reflection of God’s love to confidence in God’s power. Abraham didn’t actually have to see Isaac resurrected on Mount Moriah, because the Lord prevented him from slaying his son.

In these three verses, the man exercising faith most certainly needs to be sure of resurrection. First, there’s Isaac, who thought he could die any moment (cf. Gen 27:2). Even at that point, Isaac is fighting the Lord’s words from when the twins were still in the womb. Yet, when he realizes that God’s word cannot be undone, the Lord strengthens his faith, and Isaac blesses his sons with sure, resurrection-hope.

Then, there’s Jacob. Jacob, who was terrified for his life of Esau not once but twice. Jacob, who was devastated when he thought Joseph was dead. Jacob, who was devastated when he thought Benjamin was dead. Jacob had treated death like an insurmountable obstacle his whole life. Now, he’s sitting on his literal death-bed, but he’s not devastated; he’s worshiping. He’s blessing his grandsons and bowing his head in worship over the top of his staff.

Finally, there’s Joseph. Joseph has been certain of his future in this life ever since he had those dreams as a boy. But this verse isn’t about his future in this life. This verse is about what comes after his death: the exodus, just as God has promised.

But Joseph is sure of a future for more than Israel. He’s sure of a future for himself. Joseph knows that even after he dies, and his body has decomposed, he won’t be done with his bones yet.

And he wants Israel to know it too. He wants them to hope not in the promised land in Canaan, but in the Lord as their dwelling place. He wants them to trust God not merely for rewards in this life, but for an everlasting life of the never-ending reward that is the Lord Himself.

He plans on glorifying and enjoying God forever, soul AND body. And, dear reader, the Holy Spirit has given us this passage so that you would too.
What plans do you have for your body at death? Whom will it teach what?
Suggested Songs: ARP30 “O Lord, I Will Exalt You” or HB209 “Thine Is the Glory”

Friday, April 27, 2018

2018.04.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 14:1-11

Questions for Littles: What day was in two days (v1)? What feast was beginning? How did the chief priests and scribes seek to take Jesus? What did they want to do to Him? But when did they say not to do it (v2)? Why not then? In what city was Jesus in v3? In whose house? What had Simon been? What does that imply Jesus had done for him? With what did a woman come to him in v3? What was in the flask? What did she do with it? How did some of them respond in themselves (v4)? What did they say? For how much could the spikenard have been sold (v5)? What did they do to the woman? What does Jesus tell them to do to her (v6)? What does He ask them? What does He say about her? Whom does Jesus say they should have been more concerned about serving (v7)? For what did Jesus say she had anointed His body (v8)? What does Jesus say will happen wherever the gospel is preached (v9)? To whom does Jesus go then (v10)? To do what? How did they feel, when he came to them (v11)? What did they promise to give him? So, what did Judas seek?
In the Gospel reading this week, we see coming out of people’s hearts what is truly precious to them. There are the chief priests and scribes, whose position and praise are precious to them.

They would be glad to outright murder Jesus, but want to do it in a way that doesn’t cause a ruckus. Not only might a riot get them in trouble with Rome, but we can tell from the fact that they are trying to use trickery that they are trying to get this done without having the people turn on them.

Dear reader, how much do we love the opinions of others and positions of respect? God grant that we would treasure Jesus more!

Then there are the “some” of v4. It’s not just Judas. There were several who just didn’t adore Jesus enough to consider the expensive perfume well-spent on Him. At the very least, they could have used it to get “credit” for helping the poor.  Of course, Judas is the poster boy for caring too much about money and not enough about Jesus.

But let us not think that we could never end up like Judas. A conviction about the usefulness of money can too easily turn into too strong a desire for it. We cannot love both God and money!

Instead, let us learn from Simon to be continually mindful of how Jesus has saved us, and from the woman to give our very best to engaging the Lord Himself, not just serving Him in engaging others.

But let us most of all learn from Jesus. Whenever we have opportunity to come to His feet and adore Him, let’s take it. Other duties we will always have with us.

Did the woman know she was anointing Him for His burial? Probably not. And you and I don’t know what He will do in response to our prayers, or in our own hearts and minds as we worship Him. What we do know is that He has taught us here to place adoring Him at the top of our priority lists!
When do we have opportunity to engage Jesus Himself? What are some (possibly good) things that we allow to get in the way of those opportunities.
Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or HB303 “Be Thou My Vision”

Thursday, April 26, 2018

2018.04.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 16:1-16

Questions for Littles: Whom does Paul commend to them in v1? What does he ask them to do for her (v2)? Whom does he say to greet in v3? What had they done (v4)? Who meet in their house (v5)? What does he call Epaenetus? What had Mary done (v6)? Whom did the apostles consider noteworthy, according to v7? What does he call Amplias (v8)? Who was Urbanus (v9)? And what does he call Stachys? What does he say about Apelles (v10)? Whose household are they to greet? Who is Herodion (v11)? Which of the household of Narcissus are they to greet? What have Tryphena and Tryphosa done (v12)? How about Persis? What does he call Rufus (v13)? What does he call Rufus’s mother? Whom else does he say to greet in v14-15? How are they to greet one another (v16)? Who else greets them?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we might have been surprised by the sheer volume of text used for personal greetings. Considering that it contains everything that we need for faith and practice, the Bible is a pretty short book. It’s efficient. Nothing is wasted. When something is repeated, that’s important. When a large amount of text is spent upon something, that’s important. Now, when a large amount of text is spent upon something that doesn’t seem at first like it would be important… we’re about to learn that something is more important than we thought.

So, one of the main things that we learn from this passage is that greeting one another is important. We can see many of the reasons why in the “middle” verses. We are fellow workers. We risk for one another. We work for one another. We have been through much together. We share a mutual love. We are like family.

But it is at the bookends that we are reminded of the strongest reasons to make sure that we greet one another. At the beginning of the passage, we learn that affectionate greetings are something that is owed to those who are called saints—literally, “holy ones.” These greetings are given “in the Lord.”

And then, at the end of our passage, we are told to greet one another with a holy kiss—a kiss that is reserved for those whom God has set apart for Himself.

Do we long to renew fellowship with one another and make certain to greet one another affectionately? Let us learn to do so for all of these good reasons!
What opportunities do we have for greeting one another in the Lord?
Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or HB473 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

2018.04.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 21:1-7

Questions for Littles: Who visited Sarah (v1)? Just as what (according to what) did the Lord visit Sarah and do for Sarah? What did Sarah bear for whom (v2)? At what time did she do so? Who named the son (v3)? Who bore the son? What did Abraham name him? What did Abraham do to Isaac in v4? At what age? Why? How old was Abraham when Isaac was born to him (v5)? What did Sarah say God had made her to do (v6)? What did she say others would do with her? What question does Sarah ask in v7? 
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, the Word of God reigns supreme.

The Lord is perfectly faithful, therefore He does whatever He says.

The Lord said that He would visit Sarah, and He visited Sarah.

The Lord said that He would give Sarah a child, and He gave Sarah a child.

The Lord told Abraham a specific time that Sarah would bear a son, and it was at that specific time that Sarah bore their son.

And the Lord also works by means of giving us His Word to follow and obey as our privilege in His service.

The Lord told Abraham to call the boy’s name Isaac (cf. 17:19), and Abraham called the boy’s name Isaac.

The Lord commanded that Abraham circumcise his son on the eighth day, and Abraham circumcised him on the 8th day.

Indeed, the rhetorical question in v7 is crying out for this glorious answer. Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Why, that’s exactly what the Lord had said to Abraham!

Dear believer, why should we be weak in faith, when ever single thing that the Lord has ever promised has come to pass? He is faithful to keep all His Word!

And, dear believer, shall we shrink back from doing any thing that the Lord commands? Isn’t obedience just the enjoyment of the privilege that God has given us of participating in His work?
What changes would you make if you valued the Word more than you do?
Suggested songs: ARP119M “O How I Love Your Law!” or HB253 “How I Love Thy Law, O Lord”

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

2018.04.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 6:35-51

Questions for Littles: What did Jesus call Himself in v35? What will those who come to Him never do? What will those who believe in Him never do? What does Jesus say the people who have seen Him still aren’t doing in v36? Who will come to Jesus (v37)? What will Jesus by no means do to the one who comes to Him? What had Jesus come down from heaven to do (v38)? What does the Father will Jesus should do with all whom He has given to Him (v39)? Whom does the Father will to have everlasting life and be raised up at the last day (v40)? Why did the Jews complain about Him (v41)? What did the people call Jesus and note about His parents (v42)? What did Jesus tell them not to do in v43? What has to happen for someone to come to Jesus (v44)? What will Jesus do with them on the last day? What does v45 say is written? From whom have those who come to Jesus heard and learned? Who has seen the Father (v46)? Who has everlasting life (v47)? What does Jesus say about Himself again in v48? What does Jesus say will not happen to those who eat this bread (v49-50)? What does Jesus call Himself in v51? Who will live forever? What is the bread that He will give? For what will Jesus give His flesh? 
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Prayer of Confession, and Assurance of the Gospel all come from John 6:35-51. This passage is one of the most important for understanding what Jesus means by eating His flesh and drinking His blood.

It is the one who comes to Him that will never hunger. It is the one who believes in Him that will never thirst. So, eating Jesus’s flesh and drinking Jesus’s blood is to come to Him and to believe in Him.

There’s just one difficulty: no one comes to Jesus unless the Father drags him to Jesus (v44). The Father is the One who makes us to hear about Jesus and learn about Jesus (v45).

But, as we consider the passage, this really isn’t a difficulty. If we were to come to Jesus on our own, our coming to Him would never be dependable. With even our coming to Jesus being God’s own work, His saving us is absolutely sure.

All that the Father gives to Jesus WILL come to Jesus. The one who comes to Jesus will NOT be cast out. Jesus will lose not a single one of them.

Those who want to argue about Jesus’s ability to do what He says puts themselves in the place of the murmuring people in our passage. Rather than struggle against what the Scripture says about Jesus, let us heed what Jesus tells us. Let us come to Him! Let us believe in Him! And let us give Him all the glory for granting to us to be able to!
If only God can do something, what should we do, if we want Him to do it?
Suggested songs: ARP32A “What Blessedness” or HB402 “I Sought the Lord, and Afterward I Knew”

Monday, April 23, 2018

2018.04.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 11:17-19

Questions for Littles: Who was tested in v17? What did he do when tested? What did v17 refer to him as having received? Whom did he offer up? What does v17 call his son? According to v18, what was said of Isaac? What did Abraham conclude (v19)? From what did Abraham, in a figurative sense, receive Isaac?
In the sermon this week, we heard about the testing of faith. If faith was something that we produced in ourselves, that would be a scary idea: God testing our faith. But we don’t produce it in ourselves. Faith is a gift of God. And, of course, God already knows exactly what is in us.

Taken all together, those truths mean that God’s testing us isn’t for Him to see if our faith is good enough. Instead, it’s for Him to show us what He has done in us. And that’s a great blessing, because part of the weakness of our faith is that we have a difficult time seeing the genuine work that He is doing in us.

So, it is with great interest that we see what the Lord brought out of Abraham as a demonstration of his faith: love that mirrors the Lord’s and confidence in the resurrection.

We love Him because He first loved us. And in these three verses, we see that Abraham’s love of God is a lovely reflection of God’s love. The Holy Spirit uses a very special and specific word for the son who was offered up: “only-begotten.” Nowhere else but Christ is this word used. And, although figuratively, the verse takes pains to use the phrase “raise from the dead” to talk about Abraham receiving Isaac back from the dead.

See what the Lord was doing in Abraham? See what the Lord is doing in you, dear Christian? We know that we don’t have it in us to love Him like we wish we did. But that’s just the point: it’s not in us. It’s in Him. He works His own love in our hearts!

This is just part of His keeping the promise that He would be our God, and that we would be His people. Behold what manner of love—that we should be called His children! And He is working in our hearts to give us that family resemblance.

Yes, there are times of testing when we stumble. But His work is ongoing and incomplete. There are also those times of testing where He surprises us with how much He has already done. And then, there is that glorious promise which must be fulfilled: although what we will be has not yet appeared, because we will see Him as He is, we can be sure that… at the last… we shall be like Him (1Jn 3:1-2).
How are you being tested right now? To whom must you look for what you need inside you to pass? How do we go about looking to Him for that?
Suggested Songs: ARP191 “I Love the Lord” or HB239 “Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove”