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

Saturday, January 27, 2018

2018.01.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 7:26-28

Questions for Littles: Who is the High Priest who was fitting for us (v26a)? What five things in v26 describe how and why Jesus is fitting? What does Jesus not need to do daily (v27a)? What did Jesus do once for all (v27b)? What kind of men did the law appoint as priests (v28a)? What appointed a perfected Son forever (v28b)?
In the Scripture for the sermon this week, we learned not only that Jesus’s priesthood is firm and forever, but also that it is fitting and finished.

It was a frightful thing to be a High Priest in the Old Testament. The spiritual health of the nation depended upon his remaining ceremonially clean so that he could offer the proper sacrifices. But there were so many ways, lurking around every corner for him to become unclean!

Have you ever wondered why the Lord would make it so difficult? One reason is so that we can more wonderfully and clearly see how exactly and completely suitable Christ is as our High Priest.

He is holy. The word here is not the normal word for holiness, which emphasizes being set apart, but rather morally pure and superior.

He is harmless. It is impossible for Him to do anything that is evil.

He is undefiled. There isn’t the slightest spot of guilt or uncleanness in Him.

He is separate from sinners. Having ascended into heaven, it is impossible that He could ever be stained by us.

He is higher than the heavens. Having ascended into heaven, it is impossible that He could ever be brought down by us.

So, not only was He able to finish in one afternoon sacrifice what fourteen hundred years of repeated sacrifices didn’t begin, but when Jesus had done that He sat down at the right hand of majesty. Why?

Because He is the Son of God and has a right to the throne!

This is the High Priest whom the word of the oath has appointed for us. The more we exalt Jesus Christ, and consider Him in His current glory on high, the more we’ll realize how absolutely sure our salvation is in Him!
What gets in the way of our realizing and remembering how great is the current glory of Christ? What can we do get a better grasp of it?
Suggested Songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken to My Lord” or HB132 “All Hail the Power of Jesus’s Name”

Friday, January 26, 2018

2018.01.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 9:1-13

Questions for Littles: Some of whom, did Jesus say, would not taste death until they saw the kingdom of God having come with power (v1)? How many days later does v2 occur? Who takes disciples up the mountain? Whom does He take? Who is transfigured before them? What happens to His clothes in v3? Who appear in v4? With whom are they talking? Who jumps into the conversation in v5? What does He suggest they do? Why did he say this (v6)? What comes and overshadows them (v7)? What comes out of the cloud? What does the voice say? What suddenly happens (v8)? Until when does Jesus command that they should tell no one the things they had seen (v9)? What did they question (v10)? What do they ask Him (v11)? And what does He ask them in response (v12)? What does He say happened when the Elijah prophet came (v13)?
In the Gospel reading this week, the Lord is still dealing with us about our false expectations of what it will be like to be His disciples. The passage is closely connected to the preceding one in chapter 8, where Peter takes it upon himself to pull Jesus aside and correct Him (!) for saying that He had to suffer and die.

On this particular occasion, Jesus’s glory is revealed in a physical way, and Moses and Elijah appear to them, and they are talking with Jesus. What does Peter do? He says the first thing he can think of: “We should have a campout!”

The Scripture even emphasizes that he said this precisely because he didn’t know what to say. Here’s an idea: if you don’t know what to say, then don’t say anything at all! God takes over the conversation and gives Peter some advice: if the beloved Son of God is in the conversation, you just shut your mouth and listen. “Hear Him!”

What does He say? “I’m going to rise from the dead.” They are so resistant to the idea of His death that they don’t understand what He means by “risen from the dead”!

So, they ask Him a Bible question. The scholar theologians of the day interpreted Scripture to say that Elijah would come before the Christ (cf. Mal 4:5-6). So the disciples, now convinced that Jesus is the Christ, wonder why Elijah hadn’t come.

Notice how Jesus points out their inconsistency before He answers. It’s like He’s saying, “So, you’ll take the Scripture seriously when it says that Elijah comes first, but you’re determined not to take it seriously when it says that the Messiah must suffer?”

I’m afraid we are often like Peter and the others: very intrigued by some fine question in the Scripture, while neglecting other things that are most plain and necessary. This most of all: this glorious Lord Jesus suffered and died for sinners!
Does your attitude toward suffering in the Christian life match up with the passage that led to this discussion in the first place?
Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or HB366 “Whate’er My God Ordains Is Right”

Thursday, January 25, 2018

2018.01.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 9:1-13

Questions for Littles: What does Paul say in v1, even though he is writing Scripture as an apostle? After making statements like that, what does he say in v2? Finally, when we get to v3, what amazing thing does he say (“accursed” means condemned to Hell) that makes us understand why he would lead with vv1-2? What are some of the privileges that the Israelites had, in vv4-5, that yet had not led to many of them believing in Jesus and being saved? Why wasn’t it the case, then, that the word of God had taken no effect (v6)? Who are not all Israel? Who are not all Abraham’s seed (offspring, v7)? Which children are the children of God (v8)? What was the word of promise (v9)? What things were the same for Jacob and Esau (v10-11)? But what did God say to her in v12 (Cf. Gen 25:23)? And what does God ultimately say of Jacob and Esau (v13)?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we learn how it is that the same people can come from the same family, and learn the same theology, and go to the same church, and hear the same preaching… and some of them are saved, but some of them aren’t. Some of them grow, and some of them never do, only having appeared to belong to the Lord.

It is the “purpose of God according to election” so that it will be “not of works but of Him who calls” (v11).

Of course, by the time Paul is talking like this in Romans, it is unthinkable that we would ever say of God’s judgments, “That’s not fair!” Remember Romans 1:18-3:20? Well, I suppose if we look down to vv20-24, we can see that some people would still make that complaint. But of course they are wrong. We all deserve to go to Hell. None of us  deserve to be saved.

In fact, that’s the point of vv4-5, isn’t it? Even with all those advantages, we are so wicked and hard-hearted that without God working an immediate miracle upon our hearts, we will not turn and believe!

So, it is only the determined, selecting love of the Lord that can save anyone at all.

Does this doctrine make someone a calculating, cold-hearted theologian? Absolutely not! Just look at the opening three verses, and the expression of love from the apostle writing this!! It makes us so grateful to have been saved so completely by grace that we willingly acknowledge that we don’t deserve it and have broken hearts for all who are perishing!
Whom do you know that is currently rejecting Christ? How have you been able to see that your heart is breaking for them? How does the fact that God alone can do anything about it present itself in your prayer life?
Suggested songs: ARP4 “Answer When I Call” or HB402 “I Sought the Lord, and Afterward I Knew”

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

2018.01.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 12:10-13:1

Questions for Littles: What was in the land (v10a)? Where did Abram go (v10b)? Where were they when Abram told Sarai his plan (v11)? What did he think that the Egyptians might do (v12)? What did he ask Sarai to do (v13)? What did the Egyptians see in v14? Whom did the princes of Pharaoh tell about her (v15)? What happened to Sarai? How did Pharaoh treat Abram (v16)? Why? What did Abram have? What did Yahweh do to Pharaoh (v17a)? Why? What did Pharaoh somehow figure out was the reason for the plagues (v18)? Who is rebuking whom in v18-19? What did Pharaoh do in v20? Where’d Abram go (v1a)? Who went with him (v1b)? 
The passage for this week’s Old Testament reading must have been humbling for Moses and the Israelites who were with him.

It isn’t difficult for us to surmise that they considered themselves to be great moral superiors to Pharaoh, and perhaps even think that the plagues that the Lord sent upon Egypt were somehow indications of their own superiority.

But here is father Abram on the receiving end of a very correct and scathing rebuke from Pharaoh himself. And the “great plagues” from Yahweh in v17 aren’t because Pharaoh was wicked, but because Abram was!

And then there is Pharaoh, sending Abram back to the promised land. That’s a mite bit less dignified than when Yahweh had called him! But Abram hadn’t valued the land. He got a little hungry and wanted to head for Egypt.

Sound familiar? It should! Because that’s exactly the response of the generation that first received this book of the Bible, when they got hungry in the wilderness.

And aren’t we a little too much like them ourselves? Sanctification plummets when we’re hungry, or tired, or busy, or uncomfortable. We don’t value the covenant blessings of God over temporary good feelings.

We come up with plans to stop other people from sinning—by ourselves sinning. Notice that it was a judgment against Abram that the plan worked!

Of course, the good news is that Abram wasn’t saved by works. He was saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. And so may you and I be!
When has the Lord used the wicked to humble you? Did you learn your lesson?
Suggested songs: ARP78A “O Come, My People” or HB89 “The God of Abraham Praise”

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

2018.01.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 2:19-22

Questions for Littles: What are we no longer (v19a)? What are we now (v19b)? Upon what foundation has this house been built (v20a)? Of whom are these apostles and prophets an extension (v20b)? When the building is fitted together this way, what does it grow into (v21)? For whom is this temple a dwelling place (v22)? How is it that God dwells in us? 
This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation, and Confession of sin came from Ephesians. Today’s devotional considers one of those passages from which they came. At this point in Ephesians, the apostle has just been talking about how the Lord has reconciled not only sinners to Himself, but especially how in Himself, He has reconciled sinners to each other.

This turns out to be important not only for our own well-being and interaction, but especially because of what the Lord has intended for us to be since before the world even began: monuments to the praise of His glorious grace! (see 1:6, 1:12, 1:14).

Why is it so important that we no longer be foreigners but rather fellow citizens of the same kingdom? Why is it so important that we no longer be strangers but rather members of the same household?

Why is it so important that we be able to say of the folks in the church, more than we would say of anyone else, “these are my people, and this is my family”?

Because the temple of the glory of the Lord is being built by Christ’s fitting us together in Himself. If we refuse to be fitted together—if we resist one another, refuse to cover over things in love, treat one another with contempt or even just indifference… if we are harsh, or take offense easily, or fail in gentleness and tenderheartedness… if we keep a record of wrongs or refuse to believe all things and hope all things… then like Sanballat and Tobias of old, we are setting ourselves up against construction progress on the temple of the Lord.

Nothing can be added to the foundation now. The apostles and prophets—extensions of the Lord Jesus who is the cornerstone—have come and gone. There is no other building; the Lord has chosen this one for Himself.

How petty would we have to be to value our pride over the glory of the Lord Himself? How short-sighted would we have to be to give little value to the Lord growing and building us into Himself so that we may be the dwelling place of God in the Spirit?!

Lord, help Your church to see that glory to which You have called us!
What are you doing to help or to hinder the unity of the church?
Suggested songs: ARP87 “The Lord’s Foundation” or HB437 “The Church’s One Foundation”

Monday, January 22, 2018

2018.01.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 7:20-25

Questions for Littles: Who wasn’t Jesus made priest without (v20)? What did the others become priest without (v21a)? Who swore an oath to Jesus that He would be priest forever (21b)? Who has become surety of our covenant (v22)? Of what kind of covenant has He become surety for us? Why were there many priests in the previous covenant (v23)? Who continues forever (v24)? Why is Jesus’s priesthood unchangeable? Who is able to save those who come to God through Him (v25a)? How completely is He able to save them (v25b)? Why is He able to save them to the uttermost? 
The Scripture for the sermon this week reminded us again of how Jesus was made our Great High Priest with the solemn oath that the Lord swore in Psalm 110. That, of course, took us back to 6:13-20, where we learned that this swearing of an oath is for our sakes, because God wants us to be sure and confident about Christ.

This week’s passage built upon that, repeating the part about the oath at both the start and end of the passage, and pointing to Jesus as our surety. That word means that if it is through Jesus that we have come to God, then Jesus is the One who backs us up in our relationship with God!

So Jesus’s priesthood is firm.

And it is forever.

That might not sound revolutionary to us, but it certainly was so to the Hebrews who went from one high priest, to another, to another. Why? Because they kept dying!

But even when the Lord Jesus had died on account of all of our sins, He couldn’t stay dead. He was raised from the dead on account of our having been made right with God. And He can never die again.

Therefore, He is able to save us completely—He cannot fail to save us, and nothing else can stop Him. Why? Not just because of how long He is living, but also because of what He’s doing with that forever-life: interceding for us.

Jesus didn’t just die for us once. He is living for us. Forever! And there is nothing surer than that.

Beloved, you can be confident in Him. Hallelujah!
Into what uncertain situation do you need this reminder of Jesus’s sure salvation?
Suggested Songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken to My Lord” or HB368 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”