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, February 10, 2018

2018.02.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 9:11-15

Questions for Littles: Who came as High Priest of the good things to come (v11)? What kind of tabernacle does He minister in? What as not used to make it? Indeed, what is it not a part of at all? With what did He enter the Most Holy Place (v12)? How often has He entered there? What kind of redemption has He obtained? What blood used to be splattered (v13)? To what ashes did this blood witness? What did all of this cleanse? By whose blood are we cleansed (v14)? Through what (Whom!) did Christ offer Himself to God? What does His blood cleanse? From what does His blood cleanse our consciences? Of what does this make Him Mediator (v15)? By what means? For the transgressions under which covenant does v15 specifically say Christ made redemption? Who from that covenant received the promised eternal inheritance?
In the Scripture for the sermon this week, the Lord said something amazing about the tabernacle and sacrificial system of the Old Testament. He called them dead works!

Why were they dead? Because they couldn’t accomplish the cleansing of sin. It required Jesus’s death as the Mediator of the new covenant, just to provide redemption for the transgressions under the first covenant.

By this definition, all of our works are dead. Nothing we do can ever atone for sin. Nothing we do can ever provide redemption. This is why when God was talking about how our being made right with Him is all about Jesus, in 6:1 He called the first part of the foundation of the faith, “repentance from dead works and faith toward God.”

That is to say: the very first foundation of our faith is giving up the idea that we can ever do anything to make up for our sin, and holding on to Jesus (as the only One) and His death (as the only thing) that could ever take away the guilt and uncleanness of our sin.

And every time the Lord adds a person to His church, He holds up a giant sign of this fact: “This is how I promise to save you!” What is that sign?

Well, it’s not the sprinkling of goat’s blood. That was an Old Covenant sign that reminded the people that the same goat’s blood was on the altar the inner room of the tent—that they were represented by blood sacrifice before God.

And, it’s not the cutting away of flesh in a bloody ceremony that reminds us that we need the deadness of our hearts removed, because the human man who fathered us deserved for us to be dead sinners.

Now, when the Lord adds someone to His church, He declares “This is how I promise to save you!” by the splattering of water, not blood. The blood has been spilled once, and the Lamb who was slain is our Mercy Seat to this day, sitting upon the throne in glory!

But the water is splattered down here on earth to remind us that He gives us an interest in His sacrifice, a participation in His sacrifice, not by a priest on earth splattering us with blood, but by our Great High Priest in heaven pouring out His Spirit upon us!

Now, nothing would make less sense than trusting in a sign that says “Trust in Christ!!” But to those who trust in Him, nothing is more comforting than a sign that shouts, “This is how I promise to save you!” Let us refuse to hope in anything else!
What are some things that we slide into treating as if they keep us right with God? How does remembering your baptism help steer you away from that?
Suggested Songs: ARP78B “O Come, My People” or HB198 “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”

Friday, February 09, 2018

2018.02.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 9:30-42

Questions for Littles: Through where did they pass in v30? Whom did Jesus want to know it? What three things that would happen to Him was Jesus teaching His disciples (v31)? Did they understand (v32)? Why didn’t they ask about it? Where did He come in v33? What did He ask them in the house? Why did they keep silent (v34)? Whom did Jesus call to Himself in v35? What did HE tell them in that verse? Whom did Jesus set in their midst in v36? What did He do with that child? When He had done this, what does He say in v37? What does John say they had seen in v38? What does John say that they had done? But what does Jesus say not to do (v39)? Why not—what couldn’t those who do actual miracles in Christ’s name do? What does their giving praise to Christ’s name, and God’s permitting them to do miracles in Christ’s name, show about them (v40)? What is another way that all believers show that they have a reward that they cannot lose (v41)? But what if, instead of doing good to someone because he belongs to Christ, they cause one of Christ’s little ones to stumble (v42)?
In the Gospel reading this week, the Lord Jesus is patiently teaching His disciples that following a crucified Christ is all about glorifying that Christ through self-denying service to others.

Jesus was teaching them that it was all about His death and resurrection (v31), while they were preoccupied with just how much it would be about them (v33-34).

What a picture Jesus gave them—taking up a little child in His arms. When He talks about receiving one of the little children in His name, He is holding that child. Service to other Christians is for the sake of Him who treasures them and cares for them.

And this isn’t only true for those who have few years. The same principle applied to the disciples themselves (v41). How great are they? No more than that little child. The greatness all belongs to Christ and His Name.

That’s also the point about the miracles, isn’t it? If someone really did a miracle in Jesus’s name, it was only because Jesus had granted to him to be able to do it.

Today, there are sometimes very vocal “unity” people who might come to a passage like this and say, “See? We shouldn’t exclude anybody, and we should try to make everybody feel good about themselves like Jesus did for that child.”

How ironic it would be to abuse the passage this way, in light of v31! Anyone who denies the truth about Jesus is definitely on the outside here, and in need of correction. And there is a whole lot of “not feeling good” that comes along with realizing how bad our sin is and what had to be done about it.

But we are also in danger of allowing a proper concern for precision to turn into personal hostility and even isolation. This can happen when we focus primarily upon whether someone is in error on something, or even worse, whether that person is with us. As we have learned multiple times recently, our weakness of understanding has led to a situation in which faithful believers cannot all take our vows together.

But we can surely still value one another and serve one another! Indeed we must! So, how will we steer clear of the dangers in this passage? The answer is in the main theme of the passage: by keeping our focus upon the glory of Christ, treasuring and serving whom He does!
Whom have you been treasuring and serving for the sake of Christ? Whom should you be?
Suggested songs: ARP22C “I’ll Praise You in the Gathering” or HB435 “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord”

Thursday, February 08, 2018

2018.02.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 9:30—10:13

Questions for Littles: Who did not pursue righteousness (v30)? To what have they attained? What kind of righteousness? Who were pursuing a law of righteousness (v31)? To what have they not attained? Why not—how did they not seek it (v32a)? How did they seek it (v32b)? Over what did they stumble (v32c)? Who was the stone they stumbled over (v33)? What would they have to do with Him in order not to be put to shame? What was Paul’s heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel (10:1)? What did they have for God (v2)? But what was this zeal not according to? Of what were they ignorant (v3a)? So what did they seek to establish? To what, then, were they not submitting? Who is the end of the law for righteousness (v4a)? For whom (v4b)? What does Moses write about righteousness from the law (v5)? What does the righteousness of faith tell us not to say in v6? What would that be to do? What does it tell us not to say in v7? What would that be to do? What does it say in v8? How does this word of faith come to be near us (v8b)? What do we do with this Word (v9)? What do we do with the heart (10a)? What do we do with the mouth (10b)? Who will not be put to shame (v11)? Between whom is there no distinction on this truth (v12)? Who will be saved (v13)?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we have a diagnosis of how it came to be that so few Jews were being saved—which turns out to be an important warning about how it could come to be that some among us would not be saved.

Long-story short: the Jews wanted to help their own right standing before God. They were running hard after that law of righteousness. But that was a problem, because what they needed to do was stop and stand entirely upon the Rock of salvation that God was providing—Jesus Christ and His righteousness.

What happens, though, if you’re running hard and there’s an unexpected rock in the middle of the path? You trip hard and fall on your face. So what do these Jews do? They get up and just keep on running!

Now, we should run hard after the law to honor God, to please God, to express our love for God. But we must never ever think that we may do so to be right with God. Just what would we think we could ever add to what Jesus has done?

Did He need our help to become incarnated as a Man? Did we ascend into heaven to bring Christ down? Did He need our help to be resurrected from the grave? Did we descend into the depths do bring Christ up from the dead?

You and I can no more make ourselves right with God than we can help Jesus with His incarnation or resurrection. What are we to do then? Believe in our hearts the truth about Christ that we hear preached—a belief that expresses it in worship and witness, confessing with our mouth those very truths:
Incarnation: Jesus Christ is not just a man, but the Lord God Himself who has become man. 
Resurrection: God raised Him from the dead. He truly died a sacrificial death and was raised on account of our justification.
We don’t help Jesus make us righteous. We believe and confess that Jesus alone—in opposition to any idea of anything adding to Him—makes us righteous. Let us never try toad a single thing to this, or else we will be put to shame. Not the shame of embarrassment before men, but the shame of horror at the judgment when we would be condemned!

But whoever believes on Jesus Christ, the resurrected Lord, will not be put to shame but saved!
What are you tempted to think helps you stay right with God? Why mustn’t you add to Christ?
Suggested songs: ARP51A “God, Be Merciful to Me” or HB271 “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me”

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

2018.02.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 14:1-16

Questions for Littles: In the days of which kings does this take place (v1)? Upon which kings did they make war (v2)? What had those kings joined together to do after 12 years (v3-4)? Which other kings had Chedorlaomer’s alliance attacked (v5-6)? Whom else had they attacked (v7)? Then who came out against them (v8)? Whom did Chedorlaomer have with him (v9)? Who won the war (v10)? What did they take (v11)? What special plunder of war does v12 mention? Whom did an escapee tell about all this (v13)? How many trained servants did Abram have (v14)? What did he do to them? Where did he take them? What did he do with his forces (V15a)? At what time of day? Who won that war? What did he bring back (v16)? 
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we read quite an amazing military tale.
Chedorlaomer and company had been cleaning up on the battlefield. He won one world war. Then, he plundered a bunch of countries. Then he won another world war.

In this last one, however, he carried away one piece of plunder that was just a little too costly for him.


Abram still had a sense of obligation to Lot, and as soon as he hears that Lot has been taken, he does something about it. He has 318 armed men. That’s good enough for two troops of 160 each.

They immediately start marching north, and after at least two days’ solid marching, they split up at night and attack the seasoned veterans of the Chedorlaomer alliance.

So, there is the sense of duty on Abram’s part. And, just as Melchizedek will lead Abram in understanding and praying, there is the fact that God gives Abram the victory.

But neither of these things eliminate the usefulness of preparedness, planning, wisdom, daring, courage. Abram had arms for his men. He had trained them. He uses strategy. And his household servants win a world war!

The Lord has appointed means. Trusting in Him, therefore, does not mean ignoring them, but using them!
What big task do you have in front of you? What means has God appointed for it?
Suggested songs: ARP128 “How Blessed Are All Who Fear the Lord” or HB353 “Am I a Soldier of the Cross”

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

2018.02.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 33:12—34:9

Questions for Littles: What had the Lord told Moses to do (33:12)? But what hadn’t the Lord let Moses know? What did Moses ask the Lord to show him in v13? Whom did the Lord promise would go with them in v14? In v15, what did Moses ask God not to do, if God was not going to go with them? What did Moses say (in v16) that it would show if God’s Presence did go with them? What would God’s presence do between the Israelites and every other people on the face of the earth (v16)? What does the Lord say He will do in v17? Then what new request does Moses make (v18)? What does God promise to pass before Moses (v19)? What does He promise to proclaim? What does He refuse to show Moses (v20)? How does the Lord plan to protect Moses in v21-23? What does the Lord tell Moses to do before this happens (34:1)? Where is Moses to bring the tablets (v2)? Who else is to come (v3)? When Moses goes up the mountain, what does the Lord do (v5)? What does the Lord proclaim (v5)? How, specifically, does the Lord proclaim His Name (v6-7)? What are the first seven things that the Lord says about Himself? What does He say after that (the part about not clearing the guilty, etc.)? How does Moses respond in v8? What request does he now repeat in v9? What addition request (about their iniquity and sin) does he now add? 
This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation, and Confession of sin came from Exodus 33:12—34:9. In chapter 32, the Lord had threatened to destroy Israel for the idolatry of the golden calf, but Moses had interceded for them, and rather than destroying them, the Lord plagued them.

But the most difficult consequence came at the beginning of chapter 33, when God said that He would give them everything else that He had promised—except Himself.

To their credit, this caused the people to grieve and mourn. Though they had just recently wondered if God existed or if they would ever see Moses again, the Lord’s fury and plaguing them had reminded them of His greatness and glory.

Suddenly, the promised land seemed small and empty if it did not also have with it the presence of God. As Moses met with God in chapter 33 far outside the camp, the people longed after the presence of the Lord.

We give the Israelites a difficult time, and rightly so, when we consider their conduct in the Exodus, and truly throughout their entire history. However, I wonder if we have considered that they sometimes surprise us by acting in a way that puts us to shame.

This was one of those times. Moses brings the people’s request to God—pleading that the Lord would go with them. The Lord Himself, after all, is His own greatest gift. When the Lord grants the request, Moses asks one better and bigger one: that the Lord would show to Moses His glory.

Even just of the back of the passing demonstration of glory, and covered by God for his own protection, Moses sees a spectacular display. But the primary display was to the ears, not the eyes.

The Lord proclaimed His own name, with a seven-fold description of stunning grace and mercy—without sacrificing His justice even a particle.

Right at the heart of that description is God’s steadfast love and faithfulness (“goodness and truth” in NKJV, v6. Some fourteen hundred years later, John would declare that though no one had seen God at any time, Jesus Christ had fully revealed Him.

Indeed, as John says, “the Word became flesh… and we beheld His glory… full of goodness and truth.”

In Jesus, the same continues to be displayed to us—to our ears rather than our eyes, just as with Moses. By the plain speaking of the truth (2Cor 4:2), the light of the knowledge of the glory of God shines into our hearts in the face of Jesus Christ (2Cor 4:6). Whatever else we may desire from Him, let us never forget that He Himself is His own greatest gift!
What does it look like in our lives, if we truly believe that God is His own greatest gift?
Suggested songs: ARP16A “Keep Me, O God” or HB414 “Jesus, Priceless Treasure”

Monday, February 05, 2018

2018.02.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 9:1-10

Questions for Littles: What did even the first covenant have (v1)? What was prepared (v2)? What was in the first part? What was it called? What was the part behind the second veil called (v3)? What was in that part (v4)? With what metal were those things covered? What was in the ark? What was above the ark (v5)? Into which part did the priests always go (v6)? Who went into the second part (v7)? How often did he go? What did he bring with him? For whom did he offer this blood? Who was teaching all of this (v8)? Which way was still not revealed while the first tent was still standing? Who could not be cleansed (“perfected”) by these gifts and sacrifices (v9)? What part of him, in particular, could not be cleansed? For what purposes could he be cleansed (v10)? Until what time?
In the Scripture for the sermon this week, we heard much about the first tabernacle. It existed in two parts, both of which were holy, and sacrifices were required to cleanse a priest in order to go into either part.

The first part was set up kind of like a receiving room, with the lamp stand, the table, and the show bread. Here, properly consecrated priests could come and go as necessary to keep this outer room properly maintained.

But the whole point was to keep a way open to the Holy of Holies. That outer room had to be maintained properly all year long in anticipation of the one day each year the High Priest would pass through it to apply the blood of the atonement to the mercy seat—the lid of the ark—in the Holy of Holies.

But there were several shortcomings here. First, there was the need for the atoning blood and the incense to make a cloud of sweet smoke that would fill the inner room and hide the High Priest from Him who sat enthroned upon the cherubim.

And even the atoning blood could not cleanse the conscience. It was appointed by God to permit the priest to perform all of the rituals described in the Law, but could it make a man right with God? God required perfect obedience, and how could a baby sheep take the penalty of a sinful man who deserves to be punished in his eternal soul?

By commanding this design, the Holy Spirit was saying that as long as the first tabernacle stood, the way to the true Holy of Holies was closed. God could still be worshiped, and Christ could still be hoped in. But it was absolutely clear that only Christ Himself truly opens the way to being right with God and at peace with Him.

Dear Christian, though our worship is simpler and with less visible glory, we too will be greatly mistaken if we think that it is our actions that bring us to God. Our actions have value only as given by Christ, who alone brings us to God in Himself.
Why do we do what we do in worship? How are we made acceptable to God?
Suggested Songs: ARP24 “The Earth and the Riches” or HB368 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”