Each week we webcast Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, morning public worship at 11a, and p.m. singing and sermon at 2:30p (sermon at 3:30); and the Weds. Prayer Meeting at 6:30p

Thursday, November 30, 2017

2017.11.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 6:1-11

Questions for Littles: Why do some say that we should continue in sin (v1)? Why shouldn’t we live in sin any longer (v2)? Into whom were we baptized (3a)? Into what were we baptized (3b)? What happened to us in Christ’s death (v4)? What do we walk in, as a result of Christ’s resurrection (4b)? In the likeness of what have we been united together with Christ (v5)? What does Christ’s death keep us from being slaves of (v6)? How are we freed from sin (v7)? If we have died with Christ, what else will we do with Him (v8)? What can’t Christ do, now that He has been raised from the dead (v9)? Which of Christ’s works in v10 happened just once for all time? Which of Christ’s works in v10 happen continuously forever? How should we think of ourselves in relation to sin (11a)? How should we think of ourselves toward God in Christ Jesus our Lord (11b)?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we learn one of the primary things that Baptism is supposed to teach us about. Our union with Christ.

Everyone whom the Lord adds to the church receives the sign of water baptism. And just like with circumcision (remember chapter 2?), the outward sign of baptism is a loud reminder of how urgently we must have the inward spiritual reality.

And what is that spiritual reality? Jesus Christ. We receive water baptism when we are being admitted into the visible church. That’s one of the reason that our children, who are in the church, must receive it.

But, what baptism goes with our admittance into the eternal, currently invisible, assembly of all of those who are genuinely saved? Into what are they baptized? v3 tells us most clearly: we are baptized into Christ! We are joined to Jesus Christ by believing into Him!

He is the Lamb with whom we are united. His is the blood that is sprinkled upon us. His is the cleansing power that washes us clean. When we are baptized into Christ, His death becomes our death.

But Christ has done something glorious that those other lambs could never do: He has risen from the dead. Believing into Him joins us not just into His death that cleanses us from sin, but also into His resurrection. Sin can never be our master again. Instead, being joined to Jesus means that for the first time in our “lives” we are made alive unto God in Jesus Christ!

This is what it means to have been born again by Jesus’ life: to be spiritually alive for the very first time! If you believe in Jesus, you can kill sin now! You can obey God now! Do it!
What sins can you (and should you) be killing by the life of Jesus in you? What service of obedience are you focused upon offering unto God by the resurrection life of Jesus in you?
Suggested songs: ARP51B “From My Sins, O Hide Your Face,” or HB310 “Take My Life, and Let It Be”

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

2017.11.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 7:11-24

Questions for Littles: In what year, month, and day of Noah’s life did the flood come (v11)? How long was the rain on the earth (v12)? How long had Noah and his family been on the ark (v13)? What else came with them (v14-15)? Who shut them in (v16)? How long did the waters increase (v17)? How high did the waters rise (v17-20)? What happened to all flesh and breathing creatures (v21-22)? Who did it (v23)? Who remained alive? How long was it before the water level started to decrease (v24)? 
In this week’s Old Testament reading, the flood itself finally came.

One sad reality of the days in which we live is that there are those, even who call themselves Reformed, who teach that the earth is billions of years old, that humans never lived hundreds of years, and that the flood either didn’t happen at all or that it was just a local flood.

These lies attack the power and goodness of God in the creation, and the justice and wrath of God in the flood: the very things for which we were praising the Lord yesterday in Psalm 104. When we come to this passage, we find just how hard someone has to work to reject the clear meaning of Scripture to arrive at such positions.

Look at the dating method in v11. The six hundredth year of Noah’s life, the second month, the seventeenth day of the month. It’s very specific. It doesn’t leave room for denying the ages of the fathers before the flood. It doesn’t leave room for holes in the length of time covered by the genealogy. It screams that the flood is an historical event, that it began on a particular day in history!

As for the flood being local—exactly how does it stay local and also ascend 15 cubits above the highest hills and cover all the mountains? Keeping the water from spilling over would be quite the trick!

But it’s not just the truth about God’s glorious attributes that the lie-spreaders hide from our view. It’s also the greatness of our sin, the greatness of our danger. v23 snaps our sin and danger right back into our view: We deserve to be destroyed from the earth!

But it also snaps God’s grace into view: so did Noah. So did those who were with him. But the Lord was gracious. And He is still gracious to all who are in Jesus Christ. Hide in Him!
Where might you hear that Genesis and the flood are a myth? How will you prepare not to give in? What is the connection between the cross and God’s right anger against your sin?
Suggested songs: ARP32A “What Blessedness,” or HB199 “Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed”

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

2017.11.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 104

Questions for Littles: How does this Psalm begin in the first two lines of v1 and end in the last two lines of v35? With what is God clothed (v1-2)? What are like house and chariot for Him (v2-3)? What was the Lord’s part in creation (v5)? In the flood (v6)? In the restoration (v7-9)? What has the Lord done for His various creatures, according to v10-14 and v16-22? What three things did God invent/create for man, and for what purposes (15)? What does man spend his day doing (23)? How does God’s work compare (24-26)? For what do all creatures depend upon the Lord in 27-28? For what do they depend upon Him in v29-30? What belongs to the Lord in v31a? In v31b? How do v33-34 correspond to that? Comparing v32 and v35a, what do those verses show about God? With their placement in the middle of delighting in God and glorifying Him, how are we to respond to these truths about the Lord?
This week’s Call to Worship and Invocation came from Psalm 104. This Psalm puts God in His place.

It praises Him as the Creator of an amazing world with amazing variety. It praises Him as the One who sustains all of His creatures from the smallest to the largest, from the least intelligent to man, from the defenseless to the powerful.  It praises Him as the One who continuously rules and overrules everything according to His sovereign will.

Man works hard to grow and process wine, and oil, and grain. But it is the Lord who invested these with the ability to gladden man, and give him strength and health. Our ability to work and produce and enjoy are all great privileges, because they are ways that God has permitted us to imitate Him in the creation.

But that’s just the point: even with all of our privileges, we are creatures. He is the Creator. Let us also imitate His generosity, His tender care. Generosity and kindness are becoming to those created in the image of such a Lord as we know and worship.

Still, let us not miss that the Lord saved the first half of v35 for the final thing for which to praise the Lord: His wrath and justice. With a Lord so glorious, it is the greatest of evils to fail to praise Him, let alone even to rebel against Him! Therefore, it is one of His great glories that He does not leave this unpunished.

As we obey the command at the beginning and end of this Psalm, to bless the Lord and praise Him with our whole soul, let us recognize the One in whom all of these meet: His generosity, His love, His power, His justice, His wrath—all are best seen in the cross of Christ!
For which of the God’s attributes, do you most need to increase appreciation? How will you?
Suggested songs: ARP104C “The Trees of the LORD,” or HB26 “O Worship the King”

Monday, November 27, 2017

2017.11.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 4:14-16

Questions for Littles: Who is our great High Priest (v14)? Through what has He passed? To what, then, should we hold fast? What do we not have, according to v15? Like whom was Jesus tempted? In how many points was He tempted as we are? What is the difference between Jesus’ response to temptation and ours? To where, then, should we come (v16)? In what manner should we come to the throne? What kind of throne is it for us? What do we hope to obtain and find at the throne? When should we come to the throne of grace for mercy and grace? 
In the Scripture for the sermon this week, we are instructed to hold fast to our confession.

Confessing is literally saying the same thing together. Why is it so important to cling to theology that the church agrees upon? Because the theology is all about a Person.

Sometimes, people ask, “Why do we have to care so much about theology? Why can’t we just trust in Jesus and love Him?” But that’s just the point: who is Jesus? What does it mean to trust Him? What does it mean to love Him?

The last time we saw this word for “clinging” (“holding fast”), was in 3:6, when we were told to hold fast to the confidence and rejoicing that we have. This confidence is in “the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus” (3:1).

From then up through 4:13, we heard about Jesus as the Apostle of our confession. He is the One who acts on God’s behalf toward us on the Lord’s Days, and especially in preaching, as He prepares us to enter into God’s rest. The Word is a means of grace from Him. Trusting in Jesus and loving Jesus means coming with soft hearts to the preaching every Lord’s Day.

Now, holding fast to our confession also means holding onto Jesus as our High Priest. For the next six chapters, we’ll be hearing what that means. Jesus does not only minister to us on behalf of God; He also ministers before God on behalf of us!

Where does He do that? Not in the middle of the camp, but the right hand of majesty. Not in the tent of meeting, but on the throne of glory. He has passed through the heavens! And what is His status there? Merely as a son of Adam? No! As the very Son of God, who has added humanity to Himself! Behold the glorious One who humbled Himself to become ours!

Trusting Jesus and loving Him requires the doctrines of the Trinity and the Hypostatic union. What is it to hold fast to our confession? To hold fast to Jesus Christ!
In what activities do you study theology? How much effort are you putting in? Why/why not?
Suggested Songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken to My Lord,” or HB143 “At the Name of Jesus”

Saturday, November 25, 2017

2017.11.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 4:11-13

Questions for Littles: What should we be diligent (or strive) to do, according to the first part of v11? What would keep us from doing so, according to the second part of v11? What is living and powerful, according to the first part of v12? How sharp is it, according to the second part of v12? To what divisions does the Word of God pierce? What does it discern about our hearts? What creatures are hidden from God’s sight, according to v13? What things are naked and exposed to God’s eyes? What will we have to give to God? 
In the Scripture for the sermon this week, we heard about the sharpest sword ever.

The Biblical understanding of man is that of a body and a soul. The words “soul” and “spirit” are two different words that refer to same part of us—sometimes in the same way and sometimes in different ways.

One important thing that Scripture teaches us about our souls is that we are different than the animals. At death, the souls of animals return to the dirt along with their bodies. But for man, at death, only that part of us that was made from dirt returns to dirt.

Man knows that it is appointed for him to die once, and then after that the judgment (cf. Heb 9:27). Our souls always continue. Our souls are always before God. And that is why that, unlike the animals’ bodies, our bodies will be resurrected, and we will stand before God to give an account.

Allow me to repeat that.

You will give an account to God. You will stand before Him, and He will ask, and answer will be given of everything that you have done with everything that He has given you. Without the gospel, without the blood of Christ, there is no way to psychologically survive really thinking about that—let alone when the Day itself comes.

It is no wonder, then that our passage begins, “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest.” Jesus is saving us. The story of our lives as Christians is an overarching story of how He is bringing us to glory. And the story of each Lord’s Day Sabbath (v9) and its services is one of how He gathers us up into glory by faith and addresses us there from His Word.

Do not harden your hearts! When He is speaking to us by the words on the pages of Scripture, and by the preaching of those words, do not harden your hearts!

Those words are sharp words that remind you that in your soul and spirit, you are different than the animals. Those words discern your thoughts—so many times, as the Bible is preached, we admit, “Yep—that’s exactly how I think, God help me!”

Those words reveal the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. Sometimes, we say that something is difficult to understand, when the real truth is that it is difficult to accept because it has laid bare something ugly from our hearts. Let us be careful of the different ways in which we attempt to wriggle out from under the Scriptures as they are preached.

We will not be hidden from Jesus’ sight on that last great day. As He is about the business of saving us through His Word, let us not attempt to hide from His sight now! Let us be diligent to enter His rest!
What are some of the ways that we do not listen to the Scripture preached? How does it help, to remember that we will stand before the Lord Jesus? How does it help to remember that, right now, He is saving us!
Suggested Songs: ARP184 “Adoration and Submission” or HB70 “O Day of Rest and Gladness”

Friday, November 24, 2017

2017.11.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 5:1-20

Questions for Littles: Whose country do they come to on the other side of the sea (v1)? Who meets him, immediately out of the tombs (v2)? Where was this man’s home (v3)? What couldn’t any man do to him? Why not (v4)? What would he do always, night and day (v5)? What does the man with the unclean spirit do in v6? What does He ask Jesus not to do in v7? What does Jesus command the spirit to do in v8? What does Jesus ask the spirit in v9? What is the answer? What does the man beg in v10? What do the demons beg in v12? How many pigs are able to be controlled by the number of spirits that were in the man, in v13? Who go and tell about this in the city and the country (v14)? What do people find when they come to Jesus (15)? How then do they feel about Jesus?  What do they find out in v16? What do they plead with Jesus in v17? What does the man in v18 now beg? Instead whose praise does Jesus tell him to proclaim in the country, in v19? And whose praise does the man go and proclaim in v20?
In the Gospel reading this week, the Lord Jesus delivers a demon possessed man, but this is different from many other times that He does this.

Usually, Jesus doesn’t allow a demon to speak. He just silences it and casts it out. This time, He asks the demon’s name in order to expose how many there are and show the power and necessity of the gospel.

As to how many, it is a bit stunning that the entire herd of two thousand are drowned. See how destructive are those creatures who previously were enabling the man to shatter his chains so that he could continue crying out and cutting himself?!

But consider also the power of the gospel. The demons were afraid to be sent out of the country. What was happening in the neighboring country? People were hearing about the kingdom of Jesus. People were believing in the kingdom of Jesus. Once when Jesus had let demons speak, they had said, “have you come to torment us before the time?” Now, these demons are assuming that the time of torment has come, and that the kingdom where that happens is developing next door in Judea. Consider the power of the gospel of Christ!

Finally, let us consider the necessity of the gospel. Our now-saved Gadarene friend wants to go with Christ to enjoy that developing kingdom in Galilee and Judea, but Jesus won’t let him. Why not? Because Jesus is Lord over all the earth, and that Lordship spreads by His gospel. Jesus had permitted the demons’ request to stay, but He does not permit the Gadarene’s request to leave.  We must yield ourselves to the wisdom of our Master, when He does not grant us various requests.

Notice that whereas the man is commanded to proclaim the Lord in v19, he very specifically goes and proclaims Jesus. We too are sent to proclaim the Lord. The gospel is necessary everywhere, because Jesus is Lord everywhere, and this is how He extends His kingdom of freedom from sin and Satan.
How has Jesus saved you from sin and Satan? What else has He saved you from? Whom have you told?
Suggested songs: ARP180 “Christ Shall Have Dominion” or HB141 “O for a Thousand Tongues”

Thursday, November 23, 2017

2017.11.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 5:12-21

Questions for Littles: How did sin enter the world (v12)? What entered through sin? What had all men done (v12)? What was already in the world before it was given on Sinai (v13)? What happened to men from Adam to Moses, to show that the law was already in effect (v14)? When Adam’s offense and Jesus’ grace are in competition, which does v15 say “abounded”? How many offenses of Adam did it take to condemn us (17a)? From how many of our offenses did Jesus justify us (17b)? What kind of gift did v16 call this? How were many made sinners (19a)? How were many made righteous (19b)? When the law came to be written on stone and scroll, instead of only on hearts, what abounded (20)? But when Jesus came and was obedient in our place, what abounded even more than the offense of those sins? Whose kingly reigns are in competition in v21? What do each of these produce? Whom does v21 identify as having made this glorious difference?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we have one of Scripture’s great comparisons between the first Adam and the last Adam, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Some dislike the idea of Adam’s sin being counted against us. But the fact of the matter is that if we cannot be considered in our federal head, then this takes Jesus away from us. We are sinning and dying plenty for ourselves. How we ought to rejoice that there is a free gift of righteousness and eternal life for us in the obedience of Jesus Christ!

Some dislike the idea of Jesus being punished for the sins of others. But let them see that He willingly went. It is grace! It is a free gift! It is not some horror of injustice, but a mind-boggling quest of love and power!

And let all remember that apart from Jesus and His grace we are perishing. God’s law has always been on our hearts. There is no escape. One great purpose of His proceeding to give that law also in plain words was to intensify this urgency. How great is our offense against God!

And yet, it is precisely the gospel that enables us to say, “How great is my offense!” As we go through life, realizing this over and over again, we are not terrified to death, but rather more and more amazed at our eternal life.

Every time we say, “How great is my offense!” The Lord Jesus comes along in the gospel and says, “How greater is my grace!” There is no extent of the believer’s realization of his sin and death that Christ has not already answered with forgiveness and eternal life. For the believer, wherever sin abounds, grace has already abounded all the more!
How often are you amazed at your sin? Is it possible that not being amazed enough at it is keeping you from being as amazed at Jesus as you might otherwise have been?
Suggested songs: ARP51B “From My Sins, O Hide Your Face,” or HB276 “There Is a Fountain”

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

2017.11.26 Worship Folder and Service Info

The worship folder for November 26 is now available at https://goo.gl/WFYp2y
In the sermon, from Hebrews 4:14-16, we will be hearing about how Christ's having ascended through the heavens gives us access to the throne of glory, making it for us a throne of grace.
This week's Catechism for Young Children question:
Q. 45. What did Christ undertake in the covenant of grace?
A. To keep the whole law for his people, and to suffer the punishment due to their sins.
This week's Westminster Shorter Catechism question:
Q. 15. What was the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created?
A. The sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created was their eating the forbidden fruit.
Song selections:
HB26 O Worship the King https://goo.gl/UhjJwu
​ARP183 Under His Wings, text: https://goo.gl/67JDsU / tune: https://goo.gl/8Wv1Qw
​HB385 What a Friend We Have in Jesus​ https://goo.gl/yE6L8x

DRIVE.GOOGLE.COM

2017.11.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 7:1-10

Questions for Littles: How does Noah decide when to go into the ark? What are clean animals for (so far, cf. 9:3)? How many are they to take? How many unclean? How far in advance of the flood does the Lord command him into the ark? How much of what was commanded him does Noah do (v6)? What is repeated in v7? What is repeated in v8-9? What happens after seven days (v10)? 
In this week’s Old Testament reading, we have Noah’s grand entrance into the ark.

The Lord begins telling him to come into the ark in v1. Noah obeys the command in v5. His obedience is then summarized in repetition in v7. And the flood waters come in v10.

This is like a zooming in of a camera, or a slowing down into super slo-mo replay. The story is going to pick up again next week in detailed descriptions of the storm and the flooding. But, for this week, it focuses upon the entering.

This was an intense moment. But, it wasn’t really a moment was it? It was a week. A week of sitting on the ark, with all those animals. A week of starting to do the chores. A week of experiencing the smells. A week of experiencing the new family dynamics of living in this conditions with one another as sinners. A week of no rain. A week of everyone outside knowing that they were inside. And still, a week of no flood.

That certainly required a great deal of faith, and praise the Lord that He gave it to them. Noah did according to all that Yahweh had commanded him (v5). Things were done just as God had commanded Noah (v9).

Why? Yes, so that He to whom the Lord had provided righteousness (cp. the use of “seen” in v1 with the use of that word in Gen 22) could be saved. But that salvation also had a purpose. The worship of God.

Noah knew this because he had at least seven of every clean animal. Probably 14, if the “sevens” of v2 are distributed over “male and female”—it is saying 7 pairs. Noah didn’t know that they were for eating—that grace would come later in 9:3. To this point, clean animals were only for sacrifice, only for worship.

The earth ought to have filled with the worship of God, but now it was filled with violence. God was cleansing it with the flood, and preserving a family in the ark to repopulate it with worship.

Noah knew that he was being saved for the worship of God! We too are saved by Jesus for the eternal worship of God!
How many days this week did we miss private or family worship? How many days this year did we miss corporate worship? What are we most looking forward to in glory? What does this data show about the priority of worship in our lives? God generously gives us food, but we aren’t saved to eat!
Suggested songs: ARP130 “Lord, From the Depths to You I Cried,” or HB26 “O Worship the King”

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

2017.11.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 73

Questions for Littles: How does the Psalm summarize its teaching in v1? But what does the Psalmist immediately admit about himself, concerning faith in God’s goodness, in v2? What are some things that he had noticed about the wicked in vv3-12? What did he conclude about himself and his godliness in v13? What circumstance from v14 had led him to decide that there was no point in being godly? But what would he have done if he had spoken like that out loud (v15)? When he tried to figure this out, what happened (v16)? What ended up making the difference (v17)? Whose end does he understand in v17-20? What does he conclude had been his problem in vv21-22? Who is always with him? Who will receive him into glory? Whose end is he learning about now? What does that teach him about what to value in v25? What does that teach him about whom to depend upon in v26? What will happen to those who are far from God (v27)? What is good in v28? What is the ultimate purpose of trusting in the Lord in v28?
This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation, and Confession of Sin all came from Psalm 73:17-28
Here, we learn the value of true worship—because it teaches us what a true life of thanksgiving looks like.

It looks like remembering what our end could have been (losing everything we have on earth, and falling into destruction as we are condemned by God).

It looks like remembering what our end is instead (enjoying the glorious holiness of God forever and ever).

It looks like realizing that we have, now already, Him who is the heavenliness of heaven. We are continually with Him! It is He who holds us by our right hand! It is He who guides us with His counsel! Who is He? The glorious One who will receive us into His own glory.

It looks like concluding that if we have Him, we have already, now, in heaven and earth, more property than we could ever hope to desire. God is our portion forever.

It looks like concluding that if we have Him, we have already, now, more power than we could ever fear to need. God is the strength of our heart.

Is God near to us? Then we have not kept our hands clean in vain. Are we far from God? Then we are on the cusp of eternal destruction.

Why have we trusted in God? Not so that we can get all the other earthly stuff that we love, but so that we can realize and tell all that God is more glorious and worthy than all else combined!
What trials do you have right now? What earthly things do you desire? How does God compare?
Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly I Am with You,” or HB303 “Be Thou My Vision”

Audio from November 19, 2017 has been Uploaded

Both using the in-page app above, and at Hopewell's Sermonaudio page, you can now find recordings of the morning sermon, the Hopewell 101 study class, and the Lord's Supper Table Lesson.

Monday, November 20, 2017

2017.11.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1Corinthians 11:17-34

Questions for Littles: Was the Corinthians’ coming together making it better or worse (17)? What was the first reason that coming together for church was actually hurting them instead of helping them (18)? What is one reason that God allows these divisions—these factions—in the church (19)? Whose Supper, then, were they not eating (20)? Because whose supper were each of them taking (21)? From whom did Paul receive these instructions about the Supper (23)? What did Jesus take on the night He was betrayed (23)? When He gave thanks, what did He do with it (24)? What did He say? When did He take up the cup (25)? What did He say about it? What do eating the bread and drinking the cup proclaim (show forth) (26)? And for how long? If someone eats or drinks in the wrong way (“an unworthy manner”) of what are they guilty (27)? What is someone to do about the way he takes the Lord’s Supper (28)? What happens to us if we are wrong about that (29)? What was happening to them because they were taking wrong (30-32)? What should we do at the Lord’s Supper, when we come together to eat (33)? If we are hungry for food, what are we to do (34)?
This week, we celebrated the Lord’s Supper. It’s one of the great gifts that the Lord Jesus uses to bless us in worship. But, it was hurting the Corinthians instead of helping them. Why? Because everyone was seeking their own interests (v21). It was a spill-over from the division in their church (v18) that God was using to expose the hearts of some who were not even believers (v19).

But even believers were getting caught up in this division and self-interest. v32 tells us that some who were being judged with death were those who would not be condemned with the world. That doesn’t surprise us. Believers are sinners. We nurse bitterness, color others ugly with our words.

But of course the Lord’s Supper must never be the place for this. Jesus was betrayed for His church. Jesus died for this church. And Jesus gives Himself to His church, at the Lord’s Supper in particular. When He is giving Himself to us, we must not come to the table for anything else. And when He is giving Himself to our brothers and sisters, we must not come to the table with hearts divided against them.

He gives us bread to eat. But He tells us that He is feeding us upon Himself. He gives us a cup to drink. But He tells us that this is a covenant pledge—an action of announcing and confirming His bond with us and our bond with Him.

So, if we are just trying to have a snack, or trying to display ourselves, or make ourselves feel a certain way… then we are ignoring Jesus. And if we aren’t recognizing that the ones taking the Supper with us were so precious to Him that He is doing the same for them, then we are ignoring Jesus.

And if we are ignoring Jesus at the Lord’s Supper, we are not just guilty of a procedural error, or momentary gluttony, or even failing to reconcile with a brother. If we are ignoring Jesus at the moment that He is giving Himself to us as fruit of His work on the cross, then we are sinning against the body and blood of Jesus.

This is the great self-examination as we come to the table. It’s not trying to figure out if we’re spiritual enough, or repentant enough, or believing enough. It’s a questioning of whether we are coming because we know ourselves to be sinners, and we know Christ to be our only hope. It’s a questioning of whether as we come, we will look to Christ by faith and rejoice that He gives Himself to our brothers and sisters, as well as to us.
Why do you take the Lord’s Supper? What are you looking for as you take? Are you also thinking about your brothers and sisters who are taking the supper? With whom do you need to reconcile, so that you can rejoice for them?
Suggested Songs: ARP191 “I Love the Lord,” or HB443 “A Parting Hymn We Sing”

Saturday, November 18, 2017

2017.11.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 12:9-14

Questions for Littles: Where did Jesus proceed to go after the argument in the grainfields (v9)? What man did He find there in v10? What did they ask Him? Why? What did He ask them in response in v11? What does He prove is lawful in v12?  What does Jesus do in v13? How do the Pharisees respond in v14?
In the Scripture for the sermon this week, we learned that the Day of Worship is also a day on which activities that are necessary to help us worship should be done. This obviously includes eating, and can often include things like taking a nap or such exercise as is necessary to worship well in the evening service.

The point is to make choices based upon being able to worship as much as possible, as well as possible on this day. We covered that principle in vv1-8 on Monday.

Now that Jesus has gone to the synagogue, we learn that the Day of Worship is a day also especially for showing the mercy of Jesus to those who are ignored and uncared for by others. In this case, it’s the man with the withered hand.

It’s wonderful that the Pharisees were watching Jesus. It seems that they just knew He was too compassionate to pass over someone who is suffering. If His enemies recognize this about Him, then how much more should we?! How we should take comfort from the fact that our Lord can hardly bear to see us suffer for a moment! Surely, He only permits us to endure such suffering as is absolutely necessary.

And this is just the point: for someone with the heart of Christ, extending mercy is well nigh a deed of necessity. And that’s how He wants us to be. It’s exactly what He was saying in the grainfield in v7: He desires mercy and not sacrifice.

How unmerciful are the Pharisees? By v14 their idea of Sabbath keeping is to plot how they might destroy Jesus!

So, if the Lord’s Day is a day for mercy, the onus is upon us to discover who around us have the greatest need, and particularly the greatest need of the gospel—and then to seek to minister to that need, gladly using time on the Lord’s Day for that, if being freed from other duties on that day makes it the best day for us to be able to.
Who are some needy—and especially spiritually needy—folks that are often being ignored in our area? What can we do for them? If time is a limiting factor, on what day can we do it?

Friday, November 17, 2017

2017.11.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 4:35-41

Questions for Littles: Whose idea was it to cross over to the other side of the lake (v35)? What size boats were they in (v36)? What happened to the boats (v37)? Where was Jesus (v38)? What do they ask Him? How does Jesus stop the storm in v39? Whom else does He rebuke in v40? What does He rebuke them for? What do they fear even more in v41? What do they ask?
In the Gospel reading this week, we learn what to fear and what not to fear.

Just as God was the One who picked the fight that led to the situation with Job, so now it is Jesus who initiates the situation with the boats. The disciples are about to become witnesses of astonishing power (over nature in this passage, and over demons in the next one).

Because we know what Jesus is about to do, we should be particularly impressed with v38. Our Savior needs sleep. Our Creator needs sleep. Our God needs sleep. He’s exhausted—so tired that even the storm doesn’t wake Him. The disciples have to do that!

To be fair, it seems that the disciples know that Jesus could do something about the storm. To be brutally honest, it seems worse that they would be confident in His power but not in His care. But are they not like we are? Do we not sometimes, in prayer, cry to the Lord knowing that He can do something, but nursing doubt in our hearts that He will do anything? The Lord’s question is valid: why are we so fearful? How is it that we have no faith?

So… let us not fear our circumstances. After all, we have an almighty and all-loving Savior who rules and overrules in everything that happens to us!

But let us also learn to fear. It is one thing to heal diseases, and even to command evil spirits, but it is something else altogether to command the very creation.

Now, they fear exceedingly. Before, they had merely thought they were dying. Now they realize that they are in the very presence of God.

They know the answer to their question: who can this be that wind and sea obey Him? We know who He is. And the most amazing thing isn’t that He would be asleep on a pillow in a boat. The most amazing thing? That He would die on a cross and bear God’s wrath for us!
Who is Jesus? What can He do? What has He done for you? What will He do for you?
Suggested songs: ARP180 “Christ Shall Have Dominion” or HB141 “O for a Thousand”

Thursday, November 16, 2017

2017.11.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 5:1-11

Questions for Littles: By what have we been justified (v1)? What does that give us with God? In what do we stand (v2)? In what do we rejoice? What do we glory in (v3)? What does tribulation produce? What does perseverance produce (v4)? What does character produce? What does not disappoint (v5)? What has been poured out in our hearts? How? When did Christ die (v6)? For whom did Christ die? How does God demonstrate His love for us (v8)? What happens to us after we are justified by Christ’s blood (v9) and reconciled through the death of His Son (v10)? In whom do we rejoice through Jesus Christ?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we came to a passage that describes the Christian life, once we are made right with God (justified). It is a life of peace and hope and joy!

First, we have peace with God. He is entirely for us now, just as He is entirely against wickedness. How did this come about? By reconciliation. Enmity has been exchanged for peace. The death of Christ has ended our enmity with God.

But what about Christians who have trouble? It is precisely that trouble through which we receive the perseverance and the character that produces hope! God trains us to rejoice already in those things that Christ has earned for us for the future.

What has He earned for us? The very glory of God (v2, 11)! How can we be sure that we will enter into God’s glory? Because He has already justified us. If when we were without strength, and when we were ungodly, and when we were still sinners, Christ died for us… now what will God do for us?!

Here is an amazing truth: we are no longer without strength! We are in Jesus Christ. He has poured His love out in our hearts. His grace makes us strong in Him, with His strength instead of ours. Because we have none in ourselves!

We are now counted righteous in Christ! How much more will God do for us now?! There can be absolutely no doubt that He is completing our salvation. Therefore, we can rejoice in this hope, for it is sure.

Peace and hope and joy. Did you notice that all of them depend upon Christ’s cross and final glory? What don’t they depend upon? Our circumstances! If you are in Christ, then peace and hope and joy are for you—regardless of current circumstances.
What circumstances threaten your peace, hope, and joy? In whom are they sure?
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd,” or HB368 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

2017.11.19 Worship Folder and Service Info

The worship folder for November 19 is now available at https://goo.gl/WCm9ny
In the sermon, we return to Hebrews 4 to hear from vv11-13 about the glorious Sabbath work that our dear Redeemer does in us as the "Apostle of Our Confession"
Don't forget that we will celebrate the Lord's Supper, so come prepared, freshly convinced of your desperate need of Him and His abundance for that need!
This week's catechism questions:
Catechism for Young Children
Q. 44. Whom did Christ represent in the covenant of grace?
A. His elect people.
Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 14. What is sin?
A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.
Songs:
HB303 Be Thou My Vision https://goo.gl/ZutLmn
ARP183 Under His Wings https://goo.gl/gTLVft
HB253 How I Love Thy Law, O Lord! https://goo.gl/zhRUPS
ARP191 I Love the Lord
DRIVE.GOOGLE.COM

2017.11.15 Prayer Meeting

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

2017.11.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 6:9-22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

2017.11.19 Morning Worship Song Selections

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

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

2017.11.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 62

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 13, 2017

2017.11.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 12:1-8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 11, 2017

2017.11.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 58:13-14

Questions for Littles: From what were they to turn their feet on the Sabbath (v13)? Whose day is it? What were they to call a delight? What were they to call honorable? Whom do we honor when we delight in the Sabbath? Whose ways are they not to do on the Sabbath? Whose pleasure are they not to find on the Sabbath? Whose words are they not to speak on the Sabbath? What (whom!) does v14 say that this kind of Sabbath-keeping will make them delight in? Upon what will this Sabbath keeping make us to ride? Upon whose heritage will this kind of Sabbath-keeping make us to feed?
In the Scripture for the sermon this week, the Lord taught us what it means to treat the holiness of His day as weighty, especially as it concerns our ways, our pleasure, and our words.

The first way to “honor Him” on His day is by not doing our own ways. This refers to activities that are not sinful on other days. The Lord’s Day is holy. It is set apart from common use. It is set apart for another use. In Monday’s devotional we focused on attitude, but now we are talking about how this works out in action. God says, “clear your schedule on Sunday. Whatever you had planned, cancel it. I’ve got plans for you for this day; I’ll tell you what to do, and you do it as well as you can.”

The second way to “honor Him” is by not finding our own pleasure on His day. The verb means “seeking” just as much as it means “finding.” Just as with scheduling and planning, God has reserved our “seeking” energies for Himself on the Lord’s Day. Our tendency is to spend our hearts in yearning after those things that we think will give us more pleasure. On this day, however, we have an entire day of seeking to be pleased with Him directly. If we find that “doing His way instead of my own” isn’t pleasing, then let us seek with our hearts to find Him pleasant.

The third way to “honor Him” is by not speaking our own words. In fact, the text is much stronger: “not speaking a word.” There are at least two reasons for this. One is that out of the overflow of our hearts, our mouths speak (Luk 6:45). Our words will let us know how we are doing with our hearts.

Another reason is that the Lord’s Day is a day of being gathered together with one another, and our words have a significant impact upon one another. Our hearts are bad enough that the last thing that our brothers and sisters on the Lord’s Day need is for our words to turn their attention away from Him. Indeed, each of us needs all the Lord’s Day help that we can get, and in love each of us ought to be filling others’ ears with the wonderful goodness of our Lord.

As spiritually cold and dry as we are, these three simple steps are very difficult. Even if we are committed to them, we will find it tough slogging and fail often. But, we have confidence in Christ’s blood that this is paid for, and confidence that His obedience has already been counted for us. And, in this particular case, we have the most amazing promise attached: then you will delight in the Lord!
What is your Lord’s Day plan? With whom can you agree to mutually encourage one another with “Lord’s Day” words?
Suggested Songs: ARP184 “Adoration and Submission” or HB70 “O Day of Rest and Gladness”

Friday, November 10, 2017

2017.11.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 4:21-34

Questions for Littles: Where is a lamp to be set (v21)? What will happen to hidden and secret things (v22)? What should believers do with what they hear, according to v24-25? What doesn’t a person who scatters seed know (v27)? Who makes the things in v28 happen? Who enjoys the result in v29? How big is a mustard seed? How big is a mustard tree? For how much of Jesus’ public teaching did He use parables? When and to whom did He explain them?
In the Gospel reading this week, we continued to hear about those to whom Jesus has “given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God” by giving them “ears to hear.” The first question for us, of course, is whether that describes me?

Have I responded to the Scriptures as a divine rescue mission to bring me to faith in Jesus Christ, freeing me from slavery to sin and Satan? Have I rejected worry to have Christ as my confidence, and rejected worldliness to have Christ as my joy? Do I take His Word, day by day and week by week, as the operating system of my heart—directing how to think about, feel about, and respond to everything and everyone in my life?

Notice that this isn’t the same as doing so perfectly or even particularly well—but it is a habit of heart and mind in our life of clinging to Christ. Indeed, the Word to which we cling tells us that we will fail often, but it gives us a prescription for renewed faith and reinvigorated repentance whenever we do, coming again and again to Him to whom we eternally belong by His blood.

The next question is: what now? The answer: tell others. They won’t be in the dark forever. One day, they will know plainly about Jesus… and they will know that you knew and could have told them. If you had light and hid it, they will find out. That’s the convicting message of v22-23. So, v24 tells us, remember what to do with what you heard, because in addition to their finding out (v22), the Lord Himself responds with reward. Tell others about Christ!

Perhaps you don’t think it will have much effect. This is the way we often shrink away from telling others. But v26-29 rebuke us in this. Simply put: you do your part, and let the Lord be the Lord. You have no idea when He is going to make that word you speak bear an abundant crop in those who hear. You just scatter the seed, and when the Lord produces the harvest, you rejoice!

In fact, it is the Lord’s pleasure to take even the smallest evangelistic moments to produce the biggest results (v30-32). So, let us be generous in our scattering, and see what He might do. What are we waiting for? What good reason could we possibly have for keeping the gospel to ourselves?

After all, since it glorifies God to be the One who opens the eyes, ears, and hearts, we should not be surprised when He takes what we thought would be nothing and makes it great—that way, it is all the more obvious to everyone that God alone has done this!
How many conversations with unbelievers have you had this week? Where and how could you have more? What are some ways of bringing into those conversations what Jesus has done for sinners?
Suggested songs: ARP180 “Christ Shall Have Dominion” or HB141 “O for a Thousand Tongues”

Thursday, November 09, 2017

2017.11.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 4:13-25

Questions for Littles: Who received the promise that he would be heir of the world (v13)? Who are not the heirs of this promise (v14)? What does the law bring (v15)? Of what is the promise (16a)? According to what is the promise (16b)? Whom did Abraham believe (v17)? What two things had God done that made Abraham sure of that promise (17b)? Of what did Abraham become the father (18)? What would he have been weak in, if he considered the deadness of his body and Sarah’s womb (19)? What did he give to God as a result of his strengthened faith (20)? What was he convinced of about God (21)? What was imputed (counted) to him, through this faith (22)? For whose sake was this written (23-24)? In whom do we believe (24)? Why was Jesus delivered up? Why was Jesus raised? 
In this week’s Epistle reading, we are confronted with our weakness and God’s power. Abraham’s physical condition, when he heard God’s promise about Christ coming from him, is analogous to our spiritual condition: dead. But that’s the point: the outcome didn’t depend upon Abraham’s ability to have offspring, but upon God’s ability to keep His promise.

If Abraham’s true descendants were the ones who had the law, then the promise would be dead on arrival (v14), because all the law does is testify against us that we are breaking it (v15). The gospel tells us this too: that Jesus had to be delivered up because of our offenses (v25). So that is one reason that the true children of Abraham are the ones who have his faith.

Another reason is the one in v16: that it might be according to grace. Grace is God’s blessing for those who deserve only curse (as we have seen), but it is also God’s strength for those who have only weakness (cf. 2Cor 12:9-10). We need the Creator who breathes life into dirt, and who commands light (which did not yet exist) to exist (v17).

That’s Christian faith: admitting that I have absolutely nothing good or strong in myself, while rejoicing that God has in Himself abundant goodness and strength for my salvation. This is what Abraham believed about the promise of the Christ who would come from him (v18-21), and this is how he came to be counted righteous (v22).

Did it work? Absolutely! It is a mystery why some translations of v25 say that Jesus was raised “for” our justification. The preposition used, with that case of its object (“justification”), always means “on account of.” When Jesus rises from the dead, He puts on display that His goodness and His power have conquered: that all who are in Him have been justified!

We are tempted to think that we can earn from God what we can only inherit from God, so let us remember that not only is it impossible to earn our part in what He has promised, but that it has to be by faith so that it can all be by His grace and by His power.
What are you really working on in your Christian walk right now? What difference does it make in your thoughts and words to remember that this must come entirely by God’s goodness and strength?
Suggested songs: ARP32A “What Blessedness,” or HB275 “Amazing Grace”

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

2017.11.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 5:25 – 6:8

Questions for Littles: How old did Methuselah live to be? What did Lamech call his son in v29? Why? Why did they need rest (“Noah,” v29)? Who are the sons of God (6:2, cf. 4:26-5:3)? From which line, then, did the “daughters of men” come? Why did the sons of God marry them? How did God respond to the mixing of the two lines (v3)? How long did He give them from when He pronounced this judgment until He carried it out? What were the children of these families like from an earthly perspective (v4)? But what were they like spiritually (v5)? Whose line does this remind us of (cf. 4:19-24)? Sadly, which line now looks like this? What does a holy God think of a world like this (v6)? How does a holy God respond to a world like this (v7)? What did Noah find from the Lord in v8?
In this week’s Old Testament reading, the covenant of grace almost came to a disastrous end. How many times in Scripture has the covenant hung by the thinnest of threads! And yet, that thinnest thread is also the strongest: the faithfulness of God and His grace toward men.

How did things get so bad so quickly? The sons of God were calling upon the name of Yahweh. Enoch walked with God for three hundred years after fathering Methuselah, who grew up in the household of that admirable saint. When his son Lamech became the father of Noah, his heart was tender toward the Lord and eager for an end to the curse.

Now, we cannot know how many children Methuselah had before fathering Lamech at the age of 187, or how many Lamech had before fathering Noah at 182, or how many Noah had before Shem, Ham, and Japheth (were they triplets?), beginning at the age of 500. And, of course, if they continued having children until the age of 500, their families would have numbered in the thousands or even millions by the time of the flood.

Every intention of the thoughts of their hearts were only evil, continually? That means that none of them had come to faith, and none of them were doing any good works. How, then, did there come to be no converted people left on earth, except Noah? The answer is something that still plagues so many Christian families today: a fleshly approach to marriage choices.

They chose from among the wrong families: those from the line of Cain. They chose according to the wrong criteria: they saw that they were beautiful to look at. They chose without taking good counsel “whomever they chose.”

Just as more famously later with Solomon, so also more grievously and disastrously here with the line of the godly: poor marriage choices made impressive matches and produced offspring that were impressive from a worldly standpoint, but spiritually they cared little for the Lord’s promise of a seed who would crush the Serpent’s head. Of the millions and perhaps even billions of families now on earth, only one was not producing the seed of the Serpent.

Dear Christian, you work so hard to equip your children to be “men of renown”; what view of covenant, family, and marriage are you training them up with? Have they bought in? Are they eager to find a spouse from the family of God? Are they “following their hearts” (a Satanic decision-making method propagated by Disney and too many preachers), or learning to seek and heed good counsel? Do they see the purpose of marriage as to raise up godly seed for the Lord (cf. Mal 2:13-15)?

The church will never again be brought to a worldwide low, where the earth now needs to be destroyed. But there are local churches (such as some of those in Revelation), and of course also nations, that come under the frightful judgment of God. There is no faster way to bring that about than poor marriage choices!

And even while we are careful with our marriages and childrearing to serve the Lord and His church, we can be about the business of raiding Satan’s kingdom as well: by evangelism. Seed of the serpent are captured by missions, not marriage! The thinnest line of God’s grace can lay hold of a man in the midst of the most corrupt generation in history, and save him!
What efforts are you making to establish good relationships in the church and connections with other godly families? How are you preparing your children to seek good counsel and make a good choice?
Suggested songs: ARP78B “O Come, My People,” or HB408 “Come, We That Love the Lord”

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

2017.11.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 48

Questions for Littles: Where does v1 say the Lord is greatly to be praised? What does v2 call the city of the great King? Who is in that city’s palaces (3a)? What kind of defenses does it have (3b)? What happens to her enemies and competitors (4-7)? Where does God make us witnesses to how He will establish His church forever (v8)? What do we think upon there (v9)? What is done wherever God is known (v10)? Of what is His right hand full (v10)? How do His people respond to His judgments (v11)? Who in particular, from among His people, rejoice at His judgments (11)? What reason does v13 give for spending time in Zion, counting her towers, marking well her bulwarks, and considering her palaces? What does v14 teach us to conclude and commit to, about God, as a result of thinking about what He does for Zion?
This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation, and Confession of Sin came from Psalm 48. We’ve recently been learning some amazing things about the church as the Lord’s household and family, and this Psalm now brings us to consider the church as His city.

First, it is beautiful. When all of history is said and done, we will see that the City of God has been the crown jewel of His work in this world. From every place where we look, we will marvel at her and enjoy her, according to v2.

Why? Quite simply, because God is in her. He is not only her beauty, but her strength, v3. That’s a difficult thing for us to recognize sometimes, because the church is full of sinners. If we just consider them, she frankly seems pretty ugly and weak. But that’s just the point of v3. When we come to church on the Lord’s Day, and look around, our minds and hearts should be hushed with wonder: God Himself is the beauty of this people! God Himself is the strength of this people!

Indeed, those who seem most impressive in this age (v4) will soon be wrecked by the comparative glory of the church (v5-7). And week by week, we get to be reminded of that fact, as we gather in one of the her current outposts (v8). Do you remember that, dear Christian—that when you are gathered with a true congregation of Christ’s church on the Lord’s Day, it is an outpost of that lasting city whose builder is God? It is the city of Yahweh of hosts, and there we can hear and see the true outcome of all things!

A visit there will make us wonder not so much at the weak and sinful people who are there, but upon the steadfast covenant love of the God who has chosen them for His temple (v9). He is spreading His fame in His church across the world (v10), so that we should not be embarrassed even of His judgments, but rejoice in them and be glad (v11). Dear daughters, because of Christ’s blood spilled for you, you are enabled to admit that we all deserve utter destruction, and that God is righteous whenever He carries it out!

So, let us spend good time in His city (12a), paying attention to it in great detail (12b), because we know who is her protection and her palaces (13). It is in recognizing who God is for the church as a whole that we delight that we are His, and He is ours—that we reject all other gods and all other guides, and commit ourselves wholeheartedly to Him (14). Pass on to children and grandchildren this love of the church (13b)!
What church do you go to there? What are some unimpressive things about it? Yet, is the gospel preached there? Is God known? Is He being faithful? Is it part of that forever-glorious church that this Psalm is talking about? What should your attitude be about coming, and while you are there?
Suggested songs: ARP48B “Within Your Temple,” or HB438 “Within Thy Temple’s Sacred Courts”

Monday, November 06, 2017

2017.11.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 58:13-14

Questions for Littles: From what were they to turn their feet on the Sabbath (v13)? Whose day is it? What were they to call a delight? What were they to call honorable? Whom do we honor when we delight in the Sabbath? Whose ways are they not to do on the Sabbath? Whose pleasure are they not to find on the Sabbath? Whose words are they not to speak on the Sabbath? What (whom!) does v14 say that this kind of Sabbath-keeping will make them delight in? Upon what will this Sabbath keeping make us to ride? Upon whose heritage will this kind of Sabbath-keeping make us to feed?
In the Scripture for the sermon this week, we heard about God’s solution for our hearts that tend to view His law as a burden. His Sabbath. So… God’s remedy for our bad attitudes about His commandments is… the 4th commandment?

Immediately, we can see that following this remedy is going to require faith. It requires a decision to rely upon what God’s Word says instead of what I feel. It requires a commitment to treat my own wisdom as folly and follow the Physician’s advice instead of what I think I know.

So, it doesn’t surprise us that this commandment is at first about submission: “turn your foot away from doing your pleasure!” Did your heart just complain like mine did? We need to yield to the fact that when we do God’s pleasure instead of ours, we find out that He is better at making us glad. He cares more for our happiness than we do. He knows better how to give it to us than we do. Am I willing to admit that? If so, all my complaints against the commandments in this verse will evaporate.

Turn away from my own pleasure? Does God want me to be miserable every Sunday? On the contrary! That was just the first command. And the second is like it: call the Sabbath a delight. In other words: you don’t know what delight is. God designed many pleasant things for us. But He did not design us for those things. He designed us for Himself. There is a greater delight for us, who are made in His image than can be found in any creature. That delight is delight in the Creator.

Now, here comes the part that requires the greatest humility. We have to admit that we simply don’t enjoy God like we should. The greatest commandment is to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, but as soon as we are told to spend an entire day with Him, we begin proposing all of the alternative things that we might prefer. Our chief end is to enjoy Him forever, but we have an entire list of things that—when push comes to shove—our heart of hearts finds more joy in.

It’s the Lord who made those things for us. But He made us for Himself. Jesus knew this and felt this and lived this. If we trust in Him, we have the glorious promise that His obedience is counted for us as if we had done it. And, if we trust in Him, we have another glorious promise: that when we see Him, we shall be like Him. Don’t you want that? Don’t you want to delight in God Himself more than in any of His gifts? He will surely do it. Here’s what He uses though: set apart the Lord’s Day as holy!
Who cares most for your joy? What are some evidences of that? What is the biggest evidence of it?
Suggested Songs: ARP32A “What Blessedness,” or HB368 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

Saturday, November 04, 2017

2017.11.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 58:13-14

Questions for Littles: From what were they to turn their feet on the Sabbath (v13)? Whose day is it? What were they to call a delight? What were they to call honorable? Whom do we honor when we delight in the Sabbath? Whose ways are they not to do on the Sabbath? Whose pleasure are they not to find on the Sabbath? Whose words are they not to speak on the Sabbath? What (whom!) does v14 say that this kind of Sabbath-keeping will make them delight in? Upon what will this Sabbath keeping make us to ride? Upon whose heritage will this kind of Sabbath-keeping make us to feed?
In the Scripture text for the sermon this week, we heard about the two kinds of religions in vv1-12. We thought about this again on Monday. But what if we have discovered that our hearts are too much like the false religion and too little like the true religion? None of us appreciate God’s goodness and generosity as much as we ought to. None of us are merciful and gracious to others as we ought to be.

Enter one of God’s good and generous gifts: His Sabbath.

There’s a wonderful “If-then” in today’s passage. It goes exactly opposite what many of us would expect. Apart from grace, we naturally approach Sabbath-keeping like Pharisees, thinking that good Sabbath keeping will show how much we delight in the Lord… we think that “If you delight yourself in the Lord, then you will turn your foot and call the Sabbath a delight.”

However, our passage says exactly the opposite: “If you turn your foot and call the Sabbath a delight, then you will delight yourself in the Lord.” In other words, every Sabbath is a heart-training day, a delight-training day. God has built into every single week a day that cures us just a little bit of the false religion, and grows us just a little bit in the true religion.

What are we to do on His holy day? Treat it as holy! In other words, treat it as His, not ours. There are particular places that He has for us to go (worship!), so we focus on going there instead of wherever else we would have wanted. There are particular pleasures (Him Himself in focused, direct fellowship) that He has for us to enjoy—pleasures that should obsolete and dwarf whatever else we would seek after. Even the type of conversations that we have are determined by the fact that it is His holy day.

We’re so convinced that our natural desires and pleasures are the best, that we don’t always feel like the Sabbath is a gift, but in moments when we don’t feel it, we need to trust what Scripture says. That’s a big part of the Christian life, isn’t it? Doing what God says is best, even when it feels to us like it’s not? There’s already a joy in entrusting ourselves to His wisdom, and the love in which He has given His good commands. It is sweet to submit to the Savior, to yield ourselves to Him who loves our soul.

But it is more than that. There is a promise here, and thousands of years of believers have experienced God’s faithfulness to that promise. The Lord teaches us that there is a mechanism here, and thousands of years of believers have experienced the truth of that teaching.

Oh, how delightful is the Lord, our life! Indeed, He makes us to ride on the heights. What is the heritage of Jacob our father? The Lord Himself is our inheritance! And every good and perfect gift that He provides in that relationship.
What activities do you think the Lord’s Days are especially for? When we follow God’s plan, what does He grow our hearts into enjoying more and more? When you don’t feel like that would be a delight and a pleasure, how would this passage have you respond to those feelings? 
Suggested Songs: ARP184 “Adoration and Submission” or HB70 “O Day of Rest and Gladness”