Saturday, March 31, 2018

2018.03.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 11:4-7

Questions for Littles: Who offered to God a sacrifice by faith (v4)? Whose sacrifice was it more excellent than? What else did he obtain through the faith displayed in the sacrifice? Who testified about his offerings? What does Abel still do, even though he is dead? By what was Enoch taken away (v5)? What didn’t Enoch see? What witness did Enoch have about himself? Without faith, what can’t we do to God (v6)? What two things must we believe about God? Of whom is He a rewarder? Of what had Noah been warned (v7)? What did he move with, by faith? What did he prepare? For whose saving did he prepare it? Whom did this condemn? Of what did he become an heir instead?
In the second half of this week’s sermon text, we began to hear about the people of old and their faith.

The first example is Abel. By faith, he offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain? We know from other Scriptures what his believing offering looked like. He gave of his first and best. And he offered the same kind of sacrifice that God had done, in order to clothe them with animal skins.

All of that to say is that: (a) he treated God as real and rewarder (cf. v6), and (b) he treated God Himself as his greatest reward. As v4 points out, we can be certain that Abel was counted righteous through this faith, because God Himself witnesses and testifies to it.

The next example is Enoch, from Genesis 5. This verse gives us the Holy Spirit’s own authoritative interpretation of what Gen 5:22-23 mean when they tell us that Enoch “walked with God.” That is to say: he pleased God, because he knew that God is real and that God is a Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Finally, Noah believed that God is real. Real enough and angry enough that if He says to build an ark to save his family, Noah’s going to spend a century doing it! When it says that he “condemned the world,” it doesn’t just mean that “he made the world look bad.” We can tell this, because v7 follows that phrase up by saying that Noah “became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” In other words, Noah valued something as being even better than the whole cosmos.

What did Noah look for to become his inheritance? The same thing (One!) of whom Enoch’s entire life was a walking with Him. The same thing (One!) who was so valuable to Abel that he gladly did away with the first and best of his flock for him.

I hope you have seen where this is going, dear reader. The faith that is being described in this chapter—the faith in which we persist, unto salvation—is faith that takes God at His Word, that believes that He is real, and that believes that He rewards those who give themselves to seeking Him. This faith counts God Himself as His own greatest reward.

Is He that to you?
If God Himself is His own greatest reward for you, how does that change how you spend your time? Your money? What you want out of life?
Suggested Songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly I Am with You” or HB126 “In Sweet Communion”

Friday, March 30, 2018

2018.03.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 11:27-12:12

Questions for Littles: To where did they come again in v27? Where was Jesus walking? Who came to Him? What did they ask Him (v28)? What did Jesus tell them they would have to do if they wanted Him to answer them (v29)? What does He ask them (v30)? Why didn’t they want to say “from heaven” (v31)? Why didn’t they want to say “from men” (v32)? So, what do they answer (v33)? And what does Jesus say? In what did Jesus then begin to speak to them (12:1)? What is this parable about? Where does the owner of the vineyard go? What does he do at vintage-time, when there should be grapes ready (v2)? What do they do to the servant (v3)? What do they do with the second servant (v4)? And the third (v5)? How many sons did the owner have (v6)? What did the vinedressers say among themselves in v7? What do they do to the son (v8)? What does Jesus say that the owner will do in v9? What Scripture quote does He say in v10-11? About whom did the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders know that Jesus had spoken this parable?
In the Gospel reading this week, we are starting to feel the buildup of pressure that leads to the cross. The chief priests, the scribes, and the elders have all joined forces now. The scribes and the elders were very hostile to Rome, while the chief priests were very friendly to Rome, who had permitted them to continue operating the temple. The others saw the priests as sellouts.

But, these groups can finally agree on something. They hate Jesus and want to destroy Him. When they come and ask the question about authority, it is a catch-22 for Jesus. If He claims a divine authority to act against the temple order, as currently overseen by Rome, it would be a crime of rebellion against Rome, and punishable by death.

If He somehow claimed Roman authority to do it, then the scribe/elder party would consider his sellout on the level of blasphemy for desecrating the temple, and they would execute Jesus for that. In the end, this was, indeed, the charge that they were trying to line up (false!) testimony to prove--that Jesus had spoken against the temple and Moses. But Jesus confessed Himself to be the Son of God, and so they based the blasphemy charges upon that instead.

In the parable, Jesus exposes just how bad this really is. They know that He is from God. The very thing that they are trying to get Him to admit is that God has invested Him with His own authority to give God the fruit that He has always sought from Israel.

They know, and they want to destroy Him anyway. But notice who is afraid, and who is in control here. They come to trap Jesus with a question, and He traps them with one instead. They are out to destroy Jesus, but Jesus is not the One who is afraid. Rather, twice it says that they are afraid of the people/multitude.

Jesus is in control, and that’s super-important.

It means that the cross was not some tragic miscalculation or accident. It was not the Jews or the Romans or even the Devil overpowering Jesus. It was Jesus, intentionally, in-control, laying down His life for His people. It is so important, dear reader, that you see how powerful and in-control Jesus is, as He goes to the cross. Behold Him who laid down His life for sinners!
When have you felt out of control? Who is really in control of that? What else has He done for you, of which He was in complete control? What does this mean He is doing now?
Suggested songs: ARP118D “Now Open Wide the Gates” or HB437 “The Church’s One Foundation”

Thursday, March 29, 2018

2018.03.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 13:11-14

Questions for Littles: What is it time to do (v11)? What is nearer now than when we first believed (11b)? What is far spent (v12)? What is at hand? What should we cast off? What should we put on? How should we walk (v13)? What six things, specifically, are ways that we must not walk? What (whom!) must we put on to be able to do this (v14)? For what should we make no provision? 
In this week’s Epistle reading, we learn something very important: salvation is more than being forgiven.

Of course, it must start there. God’s holiness, justice, and wrath will not permit us to receive any lasting or glorious good, as long as we are still guilty of our sins! And even He did permit it, what value would any other good have to us, if we still eternally perished?

Yes. Salvation starts with forgiveness. But it includes so much more. That is why v11 tells us that our salvation is actually nearer than when we first believed. Our salvation includes enjoying every good thing that Christ has earned for us.

And that means not just entrance into glory, but that the Lord would make us fit for that glory before we enter. Amazingly, God gives us a participation in this work of making us gloriously ready for heaven.

  1. Cast off the works of darkness. We see some of them listed here. Revelry and drunkenness, lewdness and lust… wicked! Of course these must be cast off as soon as possible! But notice the last two. Strife. Envy. These are in the same category as drunkenness, lewdness, and lust? God help us to give as little offense as possible, take as little offense as possible, and rejoice well with those who rejoice, and mourn well with those who mourn!!
  2. Put on Christ. Praise God that He has given us not just the “what” to do but the “how”… by putting on the Lord Jesus Christ. In other words: you know that your salvation comes from being united to Him. Now, continually remember that union, and be mindful of Him wherever you go. Get so accustomed to thinking of Christ that any moment in which you are not doing so is one in which you feel as if you were naked.
  3. Starve the flesh. The remaining sin from our former nature is a ravenously hungry beast. There is only one cure for such aggressive impulses. Starve them. Don’t make even a little wiggle room. Make. No. Provision. STARVE IT!

What sins have you been committing that you need to starve to death?
Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or HB310 “Take My Life, and Let it Be”

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

2018.03.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 19:1-11

Questions for Littles: To where did the two angels come (v1)? What time was it? Where was Lot? How did he respond? Where did he ask them to spend the night (v2)? Where did they say they would spend the night? When did he suggest that they should then leave? Who won the argument (v3)? What did he do for them? Who came and surrounded the house (v4)? What did they want Lot to give them (v5)? Where did Lot go to talk (v6)? What does he call the people of Sodom in v7? What does he offer to give them in v8? What does he say the men of the city may do to them? What did they say they were about to do to him—then actually begin to do—in v9? Who end up saving Lot in v10? What do they do to the men of the city in the doorway (v11)?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we have the unfolding of the tragedy of Lot.
When he first pitched his tent toward Sodom, we wondered why he hadn’t just sold off some of his herd and valued being with God’s chosen man above having more earthly stuff.

Now, there’s no tent anymore. There’s a door. And, it turns out to be quite a necessary door… for an unnecessary situation. It would not have come to this for Lot if he hadn’t actually become a part of Sodom. He has a house in the city now. He calls the men of the city his brethren.

Yes, he pleads with them not to do evil, and the Holy Spirit tells us later, through Peter, that Lot’s righteous soul was tormented daily in that place.

But still, he's there. And look at how his situation has affected him! Can you imagine this man, whose duty it was to protect and defend not just his guests, but especially his daughters, with his own life… and he offers to bring them out to be abused by the men of the city of Sodom?!

He should rather have given himself up than do that to his daughters.

Sadly, the account of how his parenting affected his daughters is not going to get better, but only worse.

When we are overconfident in our spiritual ability, we fail like Lot did. Not only had he inched his way into the city, while thinking he could do so as a “missionary,” but even in our passage we see the ironic reversal: the “men” whom he had sought to protect end up having to be the ones to protect him!

Let us not put ourselves—and especially our families—in situations where their lives are spent under a saturation of devilish influence. Whatever ministry we conduct to the world, let us make sure that love to God is the hallmark of our primary companions and indeed the pervasive atmosphere of our entire homes.

And let us be grateful that our Redeemer is the One who was so patient and merciful, even with someone who had messed up as bad and for as long as Lot had.
How has pride gotten you into spiritual or earthly trouble? How do you fight it?
Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly I Am with You” or HB303 “Be Thou My Vision”

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

2018.03.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 53:1-6

Questions for Littles: What two questions do v1 ask? With what word does v2 begin? So, what is this report that is the revelation of God’s saving arm? Like what kind of plant would the Messiah grow (2a)? Out of what kind of ground (2b)? What does v2 assure us would not be true about the Messiah physically? How would men treat Him (v3a)? What would He experience (v3b)? How would we respond to His sorrow and grief? But whose grief and sorrow is He actually carrying (v4)? And who, would men think, was punishing the Messiah? But for whose transgressions was He wounded (5a)? For whose iniquities was He bruised? For whose peace was He chastised? Whom did He heal by His stripes? What had we done (v6)? And who was it that laid our guilt upon the Messiah instead?
This week’s Prayer for Help and Confession of Sin came from Isaiah 53:1-6.

It is easy to see why these verses work so well for both of those purposes.

First, v1 is a perfect verse for a prayer for help in worship. It reminds us that in worship, when God’s Word is announced, His strong arm of salvation is being put on display. But it also reminds us that the ability to believe the Word as it is taught and preached is not something that we automatically have. In fact, God has to supernaturally give us the ability to believe!

Then, vv2-6 are some Scripture verses that perhaps, of the entire Bible, lend themselves most easily to a confession of sin. Look at how great our sin is, in what it cost. Sorrow! Grief! The striking and wounding and bruising of God! Chastisement! Stripes!

But don’t just look at what our salvation from sin cost. Look at Whom it costed those things!! Here is the ugliness of our sin best seen—

And what a rich mercy that we get to see our sin most clearly, precisely in the very picture of the love and salvation of Christ for sinners. For, we may gaze at this picture without minimizing the greatness of our guilt upon the one hand, but also without despairing over that greatness on the other.

The Lord has laid upon Him our iniquity!
When did you last consider your sin in light of the cross?
Suggested songs: ARP22A “My God, My God” or HB194 “O Sacred Head Now Wounded”

Monday, March 26, 2018

2018.03.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 11:1-3

Questions for Littles: Of what is faith the substance (v1)? Of what is faith the evidence? What did the elders obtain by faith (v2)? What does v3 say that we understand by faith? By what were the worlds framed? Of what were the things which are seen not made?  
In the sermon text this week, we thought a lot about faith. This is a subject that we want to know about, since the previous passage told us that there are two options for us: drift away and be lost, or persist in faith and be saved.

So, we want very much to know what this faith is, and the Holy Spirit immediately begins to tell us. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for.”

Now, it’s important for us to understand that the word translated “hope” here isn’t a word that means uncertainty. In English we often say that we “hope” for something, when we mean that it is very unlikely, but we still wish it would happen.

But the Greek word is almost exactly the opposite. It means to be so sure of something that we do not see (usually because it hasn’t happened yet), that we can already enjoy its reality even though we don’t see it with our eyes (cf. Rom 5:1-4; Rom 8:24-25).

So, it is pretty strong for v1 to tell us that faith is the “substance” of this. A better word for “substance” is the word “assurance,” or “certainty,” or “confidence.” Hope is the enjoyment of the unseen thing’s certainty. Faith is the certainty of the unseen thing that we enjoy.

How is it the certainty of the unseen thing? Faith has verified it. Now, you can see how this is very different than what people call “blind faith.” “Blind faith” is to accept something without verification. The Scripture here says that biblical faith, saving faith, is exactly the opposite.

That’s difficult for us to understand, because we trust our eyes too much. We aren’t willing to accept alternate forms of verification. But the fact of the matter is that there is something more reliable by which something can be verified, even than if we could see it: the very word of God!

Most of the rest of the chapter will give examples of v2—how the people of old received their commendation by faith in God’s Word. But before moving onto that, v3 challenges us immediately on the doctrine of creation.

The Bible starts off with a great miracle that cannot be verified by sight. In fact, there is no theory of where things came from that can be verified by sight. Even the anti-theistic theories of men, in order to say something about origins, have to come up with very different and impossible circumstances that stretch the imagination.

The question for us is: are we willing to accept God’s Word as verification? Or, will we instead blindly believe some other theory from someone who was not there? The “we” in v3 is the “we” from 10:39. It has to be, because creation is not the biggest miracle in the Bible.

The incarnation. Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross. Christ’s bodily resurrection. His ascension into glory. His current, physical session (sitting) at the right hand of the majesty in glory. All of these are far greater miracles than the creation of everything from nothing.

Yet, without these, there simply is no such thing as a Christian and no hope for salvation at all.

Are you part of the “we” who accept God’s Word as the most reliable form of verification?
Who is someone that you know who doesn’t accept God’s Word as verification? What do they accept instead? What is an example of why that thing is not reliable?
Suggested Songs: ARP19B “The Lord’s Most Perfect Law” or HB260 “The Spirit Breathes upon the Word”

Saturday, March 24, 2018

2018.03.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 10:32-39

Questions for Littles: What days does v32 tell us to recall? After they were illuminated, what did they endure? By what were they made a spectacle (v33)? Of whom did they become companions? What did they have upon the writer in his chains (v34)? What did they joyfully accept? What kind of possession did they know that they had in heaven? What are we commanded not to cast away in v35? What do we have need of in v36? After we have done what, will we receive the promise? After a little while, what will happen (v37)? By what does the just man live (v38)? But if a man is not just, and does not have a real faith by which he lives, but instead draws back, in what does the Lord’s soul have no pleasure? Of what group are we not a part (v39)? Who go to perdition? How does it end for those who believe?
In the second half of week’s sermon text, the Scripture instructed us to look back and to look forward.
Look back. The love and zeal that you had at first—do you have it now? Are your treasures in heaven and your pleasures in being identified with Christ? Or is your treasure on earth, so that suffering can rob you of pleasure?

Look forward. Yet a little while, and Jesus will come and not delay. Does confidence in that day have you pressing forward and enduring? Does belonging to the Master have you doing His will while you wait for His return?

This is one way that we can gauge whether we are drawing back or enduring: look back and look forward. If you are beyond where you were, and still straining forward to where you will be, then you are enduring.

But, what if you look back in time and find that you once lived as someone who values Christ above all, but now would much rather be comfortable and complacent rather than devoted and suffering?

Repent! Behold Christ and His glory all over again! How? Where? By the means described in v19-25. Renew your commitment to visiting heaven with the congregation each Lord’s Day, and to the fellowship in which we stir one another up to the love and good works that serve our Master!
For what kinds of things do you miss Lord’s Day worship? What kind of fellowship do you try to have on the Lord’s Day? How do you try for it?
Suggested Songs: ARP184 “Adoration and Submission” or HB29 “O Come and Sing unto the Lord”

Friday, March 23, 2018

2018.03.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 11:12-26

Questions for Littles: Who was hungry in v12? What did He see from afar (v13)? What didn’t He find upon it? What does Jesus say to it (v14)? Who heard Him? To where did they come in v15? Where did Jesus go? Whom did He drive out? What did He overturn? What would Jesus not allow in v16? Then what did He do to them (beginning of v17)? What did He teach them that the temple was to be called? For whom was it to be a house of prayer? When Jesus expected to find this fruit on it, what did He find instead? What did the scribes and chief priests want to do to Jesus (v18)? Why didn’t they? In the morning on their way back into the city, what did they see (v20)? What does Peter say (v21)? What does Jesus command them to have in v22? Which mountain does He tell them that God will remove if they ask (v23)? What are we to believe, regardless of what we ask in prayer (v24)? What must we always have done before we pray (v25)? What won’t God do, if we do not forgive (v26, cf. Mt 6:15, 18:35)?
In the Gospel reading this week, we come upon a sobering passage about the Lord’s rejection of the Mosaic covenant.

In Judges 9:11, Jotham had referred to Israel as a fig tree, and Jesus picked up this word picture for Israel earlier in His ministry in Luke 13:6-9. There, He specifically referred to it as planted in a vineyard, picking up one of the most well-known metaphors for God’s displeasure with Israel’s unfaithfulness in Isaiah 5.

When we take those things into account, it becomes clear why vv15-19 are sandwiched on both sides by the cursing of the fig tree and the Lord’s teaching about it. Israel was supposed to have been a light to the nations. v17 quotes Isaiah 56:7 which is picking up a theme from Isaiah 45:14.

Jesus isn’t having a supernatural temper tantrum about missing out on a figgy breakfast… it wasn’t even the season for figs. What He is hungry for most of all is to do His Father’s work of gathering in the nations (cf. John 4:27-42)! The nation of Israel is the fig tree, and that is the fruit that was missing and the reason for their rejection.

What’s frightening for the apostles is that as they climb up Mt. Zion into Jerusalem, at the top of that mountain is an impressive physical structure, political structure, and religious hierarchical structure. And the powers at the top of that mountain are all trying to destroy Jesus.

The promise about the mountain is not about excavation of dirt but rather success of the great commission. Have you ever noticed that v23 refers to this mountain? It’s referring to the temple mount! How will the apostles topple it? They won’t. Jesus will, in response to their prayers.

It’s better to read v24 without supplying the direct objects, “whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive, and you will have.” These things are being asked for in a context: the mission of the church. And Christ WILL build His church!

One last thing: such dependence is essential because we come to Christ not as those who do so by works and stumble over Him, but as those who are needy of forgiveness. We cannot afford to be works-based, which means we too must be a forgiving people (v25-26). Let no man think that he is about the business of the kingdom if he shows not the forgiveness of the King!
What’s your part in the Great Commission? For what do you pray? Whom do you need to forgive?
Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or HB381 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength”

Thursday, March 22, 2018

2018.03.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 13:1-10

Questions for Littles: To whom must every soul be subject (v1)? From where does all authority come? Who has appointed the particular authorities that exist? Whose ordinance does one resists if he resists authority (v2)? What do those who resist bring upon themselves? To what kind of works are rulers not a terror (v3)? To what kind are they a terror? What question does v3 ask? How does it answer? What does God use the authority as a minister for to do to us (v4)? But if we do evil, what is he God’s minister to do to us? For what two reasons must we be subject to authority (v5)? Why do we pay taxes (v6)? In v7, what three things are due unto various entities? What debt can we never fully pay off (v8)? What does someone fulfill if he loves another? What commandments are mentioned in v9? In what saying are they summed up? What does “love” use as a definition of what is harmful?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we move from relationships in the church to relationships in the State.
Notice that there is no idea here of “natural law.” No, in the State, God is King every bit as much as in the church, and the law that defines and governs “good,” “evil,” and “love of neighbor” is the explicit commandments of God from Scripture.

Now, we know that as far as the rulers themselves go, v3 often does not appear to be true. Many wicked authorities have punished the good and rewarded the evil. But, isn’t that the point? They are not the ultimate authority. Despite themselves, God will use them (and even their wickedly intended sins) to do God to His people, and to bring wrath and vengeance upon the wicked.

This is why we must be subject to authorities—not just because of what they might do to us, but because we know that ultimately, it is God Himself with whom we have to deal, and it is therefore necessary to keep a clear conscience. Both they and we will answer to Him!

This is also why we cannot refuse to pay taxes based upon the idea that the money belongs to God and not man. God Himself has established government not only by His law, but also in His providence (v1). It is true that all of our money belongs to God, which is why we must pay taxes to the entities that God has established. And customs (revenue). And respect. And honor.

Do we find this idea unpleasant? The let us repent and remember that the Lord who gave Himself for us is the One who has appointed to us the time and place of our dwelling. Serving Him here and now—even in the paying of taxes—is His appointment to us. So, let us fulfill that appointment with diligence and joy!
Who are the authorities set over you? What do you owe to them? Are you doing so?
Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or HB496 “Jesus Shall Reign”

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

2018.03.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 18:16-33

Questions for Littles: Who rise and look toward Sodom in v16? But who is the One going and looking in v20-21? And whom does v22 say went? And whom does v33 identify as having stayed behind to talk with Abraham? According to v19, what was Abaraham’s part in the bringing about of what God had promised him? What does Abraham keep asking the Lord? How does the Lord keep responding?   
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, it is very clear that all three “men” who had visited Abraham were themselves an appearance of the Lord.

Liberal (unbelieving) scholars will tell us that this cannot be an indication of the Trinity, because such an idea did not yet exist. But, we know that the Holy Spirit is ultimately the author of Scripture. The Trinity is not merely an idea but a reality that has always existed—quite literally, from all eternity.
What is amazing is not so much that God is manifesting Himself here, but what He is doing as He manifests Himself.

Does God really need to go on an investigative trip? Of course not. This is all grace. Grace to Lot to get him out of Sodom. Grace to Abraham to stir him up to prayer for the Lord’s people wherever they might be.

And grace to us to give us a window into the mind and heart of God who so patiently bears with the wicked for the sake of His saving plan to send Christ into the world.

Of course, the life that Abraham lives by this amazing grace is amazingly… ordinary. He prays for the community around him. He has been brought into close relationship with God (v19) in order that… “he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of Yahweh to do righteousness and justice.”

Praying for others. Leading his family in godliness. That was “the stuff” of being God’s special man. And it still is. God grant unto us faithfulness in such gloriously ordinary lives!
For whom do you pray that is coming under judgment? What ordinary service unto the Lord and others has God appointed for you these days?
Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly I Am with You” or HB303 “Be Thou My Vision”

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

2018.03.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 24

Questions for Littles: To whom does the earth belong (v1)? How much of the fullness of what it contains belongs to Him? What else belongs to Him? Who else belong to Him? Why—what has the Lord done to the earth (v2)? What questions does v3 ask? How does v4 answer? What two things does v5 say He receives? From whom does He receive them? What does v6 call the generation of those who seek God? What commands do v7 and 9 give? To whom? What questions do v8 and 10 ask? What answer do they give? 
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer of Invocation and Confession of Sin came from Psalm 24, which have to do with the worthiness of God, and the worthiness required of those who would come near to Him.

First, the Lord is worthy of everything because He made everything. Every single thing belongs to Him. Every single person belongs to Him.

So, He is worthy of worship that is absolutely perfect. But are we worthy to give Him that worship? If we look at the criteria in v4, we have to answer that we are not!

The clean hands in v4 are not our hands. The pure heart is not our heart. The faithfully devoted soul and reliably true lips are not ours either. We know this to be true because of our Scriptural theology and personal experience, but we can also see it in the fanfare in vv7-10.

The One who is ascending the hill of Yahweh to stand in His holy place is Yahweh of hosts, the King of glory Himself! For Him, the gates are to lift up their heads. For Him, the everlasting doors are to be lifted up. He is the Champion, returning from battle!

On this side of the cross, it is not so difficult to know how this can be. The LORD Himself became a man, our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. His hands have always been perfectly clear. His heart pure. His soul faithful. His lips true.

We are His and belong to Him by faith—by seeking Christ, and in Christ seeking the very face of God. And Christ has received for us blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of our salvation.

Christ alone is worthy, and we must cling to Him alone as all of our worthiness!
What kind of worship does God deserve? How are you going to give it to Him?
Suggested songs: ARP24 “The Earth and the Riches” or HB187 “All Glory, Laud, and Honor”

Monday, March 19, 2018

2018.03.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 10:26-31

Questions for Littles: How might one sin, even after he knows the truth (v26)? What, then, no longer remains for him if he does so? What certain, fearful expectation would he have (v27)? What will devour God’s adversaries? For rejecting whose law did people die without mercy (v28)? How does the punishment for rejecting the gospel compare (v29)? When someone rejects the gospel, Whom do they trample underfoot? What do they treat as a common thing? What have they done to the Spirit? Who says, “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay” (v30)? Who will judge His people? What kind of thing is it if you fall into the hands of the living God (v31)?  
In the sermon this week, we moved from last week’s great privilege and duty to an equally great warning.

Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. But, if we will not glorify God by enjoying Him, we will still most certainly bring glory to His infinite perfections—not just His justice and holiness, but also even His love.

How great is God’s love, that He has given us His Son! And therefore, if we know that He did so, and still are not battling against our sin, God’s wrath will glorify His love by devouring us in fiery indignation.

How great is God’s love, that He has brought us into everlasting covenant with Himself, and that by His own blood! And therefore, if we know that He did so, and still are not battling against our sin, God’s wrath will glorify His love by devouring us in fiery indignation.

How great is God’s love, that He has given us His own Spirit to work in us by His own strength! And therefore, if we know that He did so, and still are not battling against our sin, God’s wrath will glorify His love by devouring us in fiery indignation.

We see now how vital it is that we employ Christ’s appointed means for battling sin: gathering for Lord’s Day worship to hold fast to Him together, and being called alongside one another to stir up love and good deeds.

Some say, “A loving God would not have fiery indignation that devours.” But, it is precisely because sinners are scorning and rejecting this infinitely glorious love that justice demands “fiery indignation which will devour.”

But: back to His love. This passage does not come to us with arms folded, “See what you deserve?” Rather, it comes to us with arms extended, “See how much I love you that I designed the worship and fellowship of the church for your good?”

The real question for us is: what use will we make of these means that He has so lovingly provided?
How can you tell whether you are genuinely devoted to Lord’s Day worship and fellowship?
Suggested Songs: ARP184 “Adoration and Submission” or HB70 “O Day of Rest and Gladness”

Saturday, March 17, 2018

2018.03.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 10:23-25

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 16, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 15, 2018

2018.03.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 12:14-21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

2018.03.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 18:1-15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

2018.03.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 103:1-5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 12, 2018

2018.03.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 10:19-22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, March 10, 2018

2018.03.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 10:15-18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 09, 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 08, 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 07, 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 06, 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 05, 2018

2018.03.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 10:11-14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, March 03, 2018

2018.03.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 10:5-10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 02, 2018

2018.03.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 10:17-31

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 01, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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