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, April 07, 2018

2018.04.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 11:8-16

Questions for Littles: What did Abraham do “by faith” in v8? What did he not know? What did he do by faith in v9? With whom did he dwell in tents? What was he waiting for (v10)? What did Sarah receive by faith in v11? What did she, by faith, come to judge about God? Who was the first to use the phrases in the second half of v12 (cf. Gen 15:5; Gen 22:17)? What happened to all of these people, in faith (v13)? What had they received? Of what were they sure? But what was their condition on the earth until death? What do those who confess themselves strangers on earth plainly say that they are seeking (v14)? What country was not the country that they were referring to as their home (v15)? What is the better country of which they were citizens (v16)? What is God not ashamed to be called?
In the coming sermon’s text, we see something about the “when” of faith’s hope, something about the “where” of faith’s hope, and something about the “who” of faith’s hope.

First, we see something about the “when” of faith’s hope. Abraham lived his entire life without receiving the promised land. Sarah lived her entire life without receiving the promised land. Isaac lived his entire life without receiving the promised land. Jacob lived his entire life without receiving the promised land.

These all died, still believing. Where they disappointed? I wonder if you or I would be disappointed if we lived a very long life, hoping in a promise, and came to our deaths, still not having received it. Faith clings to an eternal, all-powerful God. It does not worry if a long time—or even this entire life—has passed, and we still haven’t received all that we hope for.

Second, we see something about the “where” of faith’s hope. And that “where” is not here. If there’s ever been a promise that seemed this-life-earthy, it would have been the land promise. People still refer to Palestine as the “promised land” or the “holy land.”

But we discover in this passage that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were looking forward to a land that they would not receive in this life. In fact, they were looing forward to what we now call the New Heavens and the New Earth—in which they would inherit not just Palestine, but the whole world.

Are you looking forward to inheriting the whole world with them? Biblical faith doesn’t view one set of promises for the Jews and another for the Christians. It is not particularly interested in the tract of land belonging to the current nation-state called “Israel.” Rather, it looks forward to inheriting the New Heavens and New Earth, and all that they contain—which we will do right alongside those who have gone before (cf. v38-39).

Finally, we see something about the “who” of faith’s hope. In the end, the “when” of eternity, and the “where” of the New Heavens and New Earth comes down to the “who” of God Himself. A big part of biblical faith is “judging Him faithful” (cf. v11).

v16 is the most extraordinary part of God’s promises to which biblical faith clings. “God is not ashamed to be called their God.” It’s not just that God is building a dwelling for us to call our own. It is that God is preparing to dwell with us, and that He Himself is now called our own!

As we have seen before: one of the most important parts of biblical faith is coming to the conclusion that God Himself is His own best gift to us. He is our shield and our exceedingly great reward!
What blessings had you hoped for from God that you have not yet received? How do they compare with the eternal, universal, and personal promises to which biblical faith clings?
Suggested Songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly I Am with You” or HB126 “In Sweet Communion”

Friday, April 06, 2018

2018.04.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 12:13-37

Questions for Littles: What did the leaders send Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to do (v13)? What question do they ask in v14? How does Jesus answer in v15-17? How do they respond to Him (end of v17)? What do the Sadducees say (v18)? What crazy question do they have (v23)? What two problems does Jesus tell them they have in v24? What do we not do in the resurrection (v25)? Of whom is God the God (v27)? What does that mean about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (v26)? Who comes to Jesus in v28? What does he ask? How does Jesus answer (v29-30)? What does Jesus add to the answer in v31? How does that scribe respond to Jesus (v32-33)? What does Jesus say to the man in v34? What did no one dare to do after that?
In the Gospel reading this week, we learn something about government, something about marriage, and something about religion—all because people are trying to trap Jesus.

First, they try to trap Jesus between God and the government—as if He had to choose to honor either one or the other. But, our Lord exposes how ridiculous this is: government exists because God ordained it. There are coins with Caesar’s head on them, because God has permitted Caesar to reign in the first place!

People today make the same mistake as Jesus’s questioners. They set God and government over against each other. Though there may be times when government commands us to disobey God, and then we have to choose obedience to Christ… except for such times, Christians ought to be the best citizens in the land.

We know that government didn’t just happen because some people wanted to control other people. We know that it exists by the authority of God as a gift from God. This is also the reason why corrupt government is so offensive—it’s a sin against government’s God-given purpose! So, we should pay our taxes.

Then, we learn something about marriage. The Sadducees’ scenario is a doozy. They are truly scoffers of what they don’t understand. And Jesus puts them in their place. Because they weren’t holding to the Bible closely enough, their view of God was way too small. They were the “liberal progressives” of their day.

But, it is in Jesus’s response to their question that we definitively learn that there is no marrying in the resurrection. We will be like the angels, whose identity is bound up in being “the heavenly host [i.e. ‘army’].” So, too, Christians will be members of one great collective: a church, a temple, a house, a body… A BRIDE!

When we reach the wedding supper of the Lamb, we arrive at the reality to which marriage has always pointed forward. May the Lord give us marriages that point forward to Him, and may we rejoice to think of the day when we shall be presented to Him, unified, as one glorious Bride for Him!

The last question seems to have been a sincere one. When Jesus answers not just the greatest commandment, but the two greatest, it seems as if a light goes on in the scribe’s mind (heart) in v32-33. He realizes that God doesn’t actually delight in the burning of animal flesh, but in obedience that comes from love!

Notice, however, Jesus’s statement. He doesn’t tell the man that he is in the kingdom. He tells him that he is not far from the kingdom. Why? Because even if we know that what God wants is obedience from love, we still have the problem of being completely unable to do that! The last piece is to recognize that Jesus alone can or has ever done this.
What are some of your toughest questions for Jesus? What do the Scriptures have to say in answer? Have you asked your dad/elder/pastor what the Bible says? 
Suggested songs: ARP119M “O How I Love Your Law” or HB260 “The Spirit Breathes upon the Word”

Thursday, April 05, 2018

2018.04.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 14

Questions for Littles: Whom are we to receive (v1a)? What are we not to do with him (v1b)? What does the weak person believe (v2)? What should the strong person not do with the weak (v3a)? What should the weak person not do with the strong (v3b)? Who will make a Christian stand (v4)? What other part of the Jewish law was a point of difference for the weak and strong (v5)? Whether it’s days or foods, unto Whom should we be acting upon what we believe from the Bible (v6)?  To whom don’t we live (v7)? To whom don’t we die? To whom do we live (v8)? To whom do we die? To what end did Christ die and rise again (v9)? What two wrong ways of treating our brother must we avoid (v10)? What Scripture helps us remember not to raise ourselves up against another (v11)? What will each of us give (v12)? What must we not do to one another anymore (13a)? What must we not put in our brother’s way (v13b)? What is unclean of itself (v14a)? To whom is it unclean (v14b)? If we eat something that grieves our brother, what are we no longer doing (v15)? In that case, even if we are doing good, how will It be spoken of (v16)? What is the kingdom of God not about (17a)? What is it about (17b)? Whom must we serve in the things upon which we cannot agree (18)? What should we pursue (v19)? What should we be careful not to do (v20)? When is it good not to eat or drink (v21)? But, if we understand well enough to eat and drink, how/where should we do so (v22)? What happens when someone whose faith isn’t as strong goes ahead and acts according to the stronger person’s conscience (23)? What happens whenever we act but not out of faith?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we come to one of the issues that troubled Gentile Christians, and one of the issues that troubled Jewish Christians. Gentile Christians were reluctant to eat meat after they converted. The vast majority of meat in Roman cities—and particularly in Rome itself—was “cooked” in pagan sacrifices.

When a Gentile departed from paganism, he had an understandable aversion to going back to eating meat. Jews, however, knew that idols were nothing, and were perfectly ok with eating meat. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians about this, he told them that they are correct in saying that there aren’t actually other gods… but He did imply that demons pose as false Gods (cf. 1Cor 10:19-33).

The same conclusion is reached in both places: whatever you come to understand from Scripture, live by that Scripture. And make it your goal to live publicly in a way that will help your brothers and sisters in Christ serve their Lord Jesus.

On the flip side were the Jews to whom it was very important to keep the various church-calendar days that God had invented. Perhaps it was even more important to them, now that they knew these days pointed to Christ. As we’ve learned about that shadow calendar from Hebrews, it is plain that the “strong” did not observe those days. Ironically, in America today, there are a number of Gentiles who keep the Jewish shadow calendar!

But eating or not eating, and keeping feasts or not keeping feasts, are not the dangers that this chapter is warning against. Rather, the dangers are either to despise the weaker brother because he doesn’t see the connections in the Bible, or to judge the stronger brother because we think there are things still in effect that Scripture teaches have actually stopped.

In either case, the danger is not that we won’t be right about the issue. The danger is that we would not treat our brother rightly about the issue. Let us learn to walk in love and to be very careful not to cause our brother to stumble!
What rules do you follow that others in the church don’t? What rules do others in the church follow that you do not? Are you well-convinced from Scripture, or just pleasing yourself? How might you be in danger of treating others badly over this issue?
Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or HB473 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

2018.04.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 19:12-29

Questions for Littles: What did the “men” ask Lot (v12)? What they tell him to do with them? What were they going to do to the place (v13)? Why? What did his sons-in-law think of this warning (v14)? When did the “angels” urge lot to get up and go (v15)? Why (end of v15)? What did Lot do (v16)? What did the “men” do? Why? What did He say to Lot in v17? Why didn’t Lot think he could make it to the mountains (v19)? What did he ask for in v20? What does He say to him about that city in v21? Why? Who was going to destroy the city (v22)? Who rains down brimstone and fire (v24)? Who looks back (v26)? What happens to her? Who else goes out early in the morning (v27)? To what place does he go? Toward where does he look (v28)? What does he see? Why did God send Lot out of the cities (v29)?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we see the covenant mercies of God toward His people for His mediator’s sake.

First, we see that these are covenant mercies. The language of God “remembering” Abraham is covenant language. It’s not just saying that God didn’t suffer a case of forgetfulness. It’s saying that God was acting upon His established relationship with Abraham.

Also, the fact that it is specifically Abraham that God is “remembering” here reminds us that this is covenantal. Though the Lord tells us in Peter that Lot was righteous, he is presented here as having a federal representative stand for him: Abraham.

But, in noticing that this is covenantal mercy, let us not forget that this is mercy!
v16 announces the reason for the hand-holding, arm-pulling urgency: Yahweh was being merciful to him. Lot acknowledges that this is grace (favor) and mercy in v19? The Lord tells him that He has graced (favored) him, v19.

Later, in 2Peter 2:7-9, the Lord will give His own authoritative application of this passage to us: the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under their punishment.

This is especially true for us now, because we have infinitely better than Abraham for covenant Mediator now. We have the Lord Jesus Christ!
What is God remembering when He remembers His covenant with you in Jesus? What trouble do you currently find yourself in that He is saving you out of?
Suggested songs: ARP196 “Waiting for the Lord” or HB369 “How Firm a Foundation”

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

2018.04.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 3:13-21

Questions for Littles: Who has ascended to heaven (v13)? Who came down from heaven? What did Moses lift up in the wilderness (v14)? Who must be lifted up? What happens when someone believes (v15)? Why did God give His only begotten Son (v16)? What will not happen to those who believe in Him? What will they have? What was not the reason that God sent His Son into the world (v17)? What was the reason? Who is not condemned (v18)? What has already happened to him who does not believe? Why? What has come into the world (v19)? Why did men love darkness rather than light? What do those who practice evil hate (v20)? Why doesn’t he come to the light? Why does the one who does the truth come to the light(v21)?
This week’s Prayer for Help and Confession of Sin came from John 3:12-21. This passage includes one of the most familiar verses in the Bible. It’s a great reminder that salvation is all about the love of God.

The serpent that Moses raised in the wilderness was in response to a plague that God had sent upon the people for their sin. They deserved what was coming upon them. But God set before them a reminder of their guilt and His mercy for them just to look at, and they would not die from the venomous bite.

Of course, that was just a snake bite and an earthly death. Frightful to be sure, but nothing compared to the eternity of Hell that we actually deserve. For that, real payment had to be made, and the Lord Jesus came to do exactly that: to be our real and complete payment for sin.

But the mechanism by which we receive this far greater healing is similar to that of the bronze serpent: look to Him. Look to and hope in God’s provided remedy for your sin and guilt!

Yes, it hurts to have our sin brought out into the light. It hurts to look at the cross and know that’s how enormous our guilt is.

But it is also a great joy to look at the cross and know that our guilt has been put away there for god. Our deeds have been done in God! They are accepted as righteous, not because we have done them perfectly, but because God has put away all our guilt at Christ’s cross, and has produced in us whatever good there is, by Christ’s own resurrection life.
What does it look like to “come to the light” of the cross? What do we see there?
Suggested songs: ARP32A “What Blessedness” or HB198 “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”

Monday, April 02, 2018

2018.04.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 23:50-24:12

Questions for Littles: Of what was the Joseph in v50 a member? What kind of man was he? What had he not done (v51)? Where was he from? For what was he waiting? To whom did Joseph go (v52)? For what did he ask? What did Joseph do with the body of Jesus (v53)? What was that day (v54)? Who followed after (v55)? What did they observe? What did they do when they returned (v56)? Why didn’t they take the spices and oils immediately to the tomb? What day did they return (24:1)? What time? Of day? What did they bring to the tomb? What did they find when they got there (v2)? What did they not find when they went in (v3)? How did they feel about this (v4)? Who stood by them? How did the women feel now (v5)? What did they do? What do the two men ask them? What do the two men say in v6? Why isn’t Jesus there? What do they tell the women to remember? What do the women then do in v8? What do the women do when they return (v9)? Which women were they (v10)? What did their words seem like to the apostles (v11)? Who rose and ran to the tomb (v12)? When he stooped own, what did he see? How did he respond?
In the sermon text this week, we were reminded again of the wonderful reliability of Jesus’s words. He had told the disciples what seemed impossible. “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”

The women hadn’t taken these words to heart, so they were “greatly perplexed” in v4. The disciples hadn’t taken these words to heart, so even after the women report, “they did not believe them.”

Let us not put ourselves at such a disadvantage. Let us believe the words of Jesus! It is not for no reason that 1Corinthians 15 tells us that He died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and was raised again on the third day according to the Scriptures.

The Lord has given us His words so that we will be fully sure of that which is hardest to believe: that through Jesus’s sacrifice, our ungrateful, wicked sins really and truly are forgiven by the holy, holy, holy Lord.

Yes, the resurrection is an historical fact. The change that came over these disciples, even unto death, would be evidence enough of that. There’s no way that the church gets to where it is now, from how those disciples started out, if the resurrection didn’t happen.

But we have something even firmer than that logic: the words of Jesus Himself. And these are the words that tell us that He was raised because we had been forgiven fully!
What are some other Bible promises that are almost too amazing to believe? How does Jesus’s keeping His Word about the resurrection help you to believe them?
Suggested Songs: ARP16B “I’ll Bless the Lord” or HB209 “Thine Is the Glory”