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, June 30, 2018

2018.06.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 13:5-6

Questions for Littles: What is our conduct to be without (v5)? With what are we to be content? What has God said to us? Who is our helper (v6)? What will we not do? Who can do nothing, ultimately, to harm us?
In this week’s sermon text, we hear not only about whom to love, but also how to love. How can we go about giving of ourselves to and for others?

The key to the correct conduct is a condition of the heart: no covetousness and full contentment. But how can we find this contentment?

By looking unto Jesus, the Forger and Finisher of our faith—to consider Him who endured such hostility against Himself. He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

When we realize that He has given Himself to us (and, therefore, all other things along with Himself), we are freed from slavery to selfishness.

What more can we add to ourselves that we do not already have? Instead, we now have the privilege of pouring ourselves out for others and knowing that we lose nothing in the bargain.

Of course, this doesn’t come naturally to us. So, the Holy Spirit prescribes some theological self-preaching. Like the depressed Psalmist in Psalm 42-43, the covetous believer has a little mini-sermon by which he may address his weak soul. There, it was, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? Hope now in God, for I will yet praise Him. He is my help and my God. Here, it is similar: “Yahweh is my helper. I will not fear. What can man do to me.”

Blessed is the one whose help is the God of Jacob (Psalm 146:5)! Yes, we have had our name changed to Israel (God wrestles), but we so often still act like Jacob (heel-grabber; scoundrel). God has committed Himself to us, and gets down in the muck to be our help anyway. He is the God of Jacob.

Since this is the case, let us continually put ourselves in mind of the fact that He refuses to leave us or forsake us. The more we learn to live before the face of God, the less we will indulge discontentment or covetousness!
When do you tend to be discontent? How will you remind yourself of Christ at these times? What does your “self-preaching” life look like these days?
Suggested Songs: ARP146 “Praise the Lord” or TPH257 “Children of the Heavenly Father”

Friday, June 29, 2018

2018.06.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 15:40-16:8

Questions for Littles: Who were looking on when Jesus died (v40)? What had these women done during Jesus’s ministry in Galilee (v41)? Who asked for Jesus’s body (v42-43)? What did Pilate verify with the centurion (v44-45)? In what did Joseph wrap Jesus’s body (v46)? Where did he lay him, and what did he do to the door? Who observed this (v47)? When the Sabbath was past, what did the women do (v1)? When did they come to the tomb (v2)? What were they asking themselves (v3)? What did the solution turn out to be (v4)? Whom did they find in the tomb (v5)? What did he tell them that Jesus had done (v6)? Whom did he tell the women to tell (v7)? What did they do and say instead (v8)?
In the Gospel reading this week, we follow Mary, Mary, and Salome as they keep track of everything that is happening with the Lord and His body.

Evidently, these were women of some means, for they had followed Him and ministered to Him during His ministry, and they had the means of purchasing the spices to anoint Him now.

Let us learn from them the blessedness of being always busy in service, for we never know when our service will become an occasion upon which the Lord makes us witnesses to a great work of His.

There were things that they could not do—like make so bold as to request the body themselves (the Lord sent Joseph of Arimathea to do that), and especially they could not roll the stone away (the Lord Himself did that). But what they could do, they did.

Let us not, however, miss that the primary actor in their story is not themselves but the Lord. He is always a step ahead of them—even having the angel waiting, ready to instruct them. When the women are still afraid and running away not telling anyone, Jesus comes upon them and instructs Mary further, and she tells the disciples.

In all our service of the Lord and pursuit of Him, let us be mindful that it is truly He that is pursuing and employing us. Our risen Savior sits on the throne of glory, ruling over all things. Hallelujah!
How are you serving the risen King? How has He gone ahead to help you?
Suggested songs: ARP157 “Immortality and Resurrection” or TPH358 “Sing Choirs of New Jerusalem”

Thursday, June 28, 2018

2018.06.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1Corinthians 3:9-17

Questions for Littles: To whom do the fellow-workers belong (v9)? To whom does the building belong? What was given to Paul so that he could build (v10)? What was he privileged to lay? Of what must future builders take heed? What other foundation can be laid (v11)? What foundation has been laid? With what might one build (v12)? But by what will the building be tested (v13)? What will believers receive if their building endures (v14)? Through what will we all be saved (v15)? What is the church (v16)? Who dwells there? What will God do to the one who does the church harm (v17)? Why? 
In this week’s Epistle reading, we learn that there is much more at stake in ministry than satisfying the opinions of men. The workers don’t belong to the church; they belong to the Lord. What pastor fears his congregation? What pastor indulges competitive thoughts about other pastors? Let him remember that as a worker, he belongs to his Master—regardless of whom else he might be working with. And let him further remember that the work does not belong to him but to his Lord!

In one sense, this is a great comfort. The Lord will surely accomplish all that He has planned to accomplish!! That’s a cause for humility too—if the outcome is guaranteed before we begin, and sustained by grace while we labor, is there really any room at all for boasting? Absolutely not.

In another sense, this is a great caution. Because it is only the Lord’s eternal work that will stand the fire of the transition from time to eternity. v15 isn’t describing the fire of judgment. It is a reference to the fact that when the Day comes that we enter eternity, then at last we will see what fruit was eternal, and the results may be surprising indeed.

What is the solution? An endless cycle of vision statements, surveys, statistical analyses, and performance reviews? To listen to the ministry experts you sure would think so! No, rather. The answer is Bible study that gets put into action.

The Lord has only one foundation: Jesus Christ. And He has already been laid down by the apostles and prophets. And the Lord also has His own building materials: gold, silver, precious stones. Oh, there is a temptation to embellish with whatever we can. Organizations, affinity groups, programs and the like may make for a much larger structure, but they will not survive into eternity.

So what? Isn’t the only point to “get saved.” Of course not! The great point is to glorify God! And we should cherish the opportunity to serve Him in bringing Him that glory!!

And the second point is like it—to do good to others. The horrifying part about potentially seeing an entire life’s ministry go up in smoke is that the fruit of that ministry was being measured in people, eternal souls. Shall we really hate them so thoroughly as to sacrifice them on the altar of our own self-importance and job satisfaction (or volunteer ministry satisfaction)?!

Let us build the Lord’s church only, ever, with the Lord’s materials given in Scripture: the ordinary means of grace. Our ever-merciful and over-generous Lord even super-adds another incentive: rewards. If our work endures, we will receive a reward. Not because of how well we have done in ourselves—but because whatever genuine good is done is always done in Christ, and He Himself is the worthiness of the work. But, still, the Lord gives us rewards!

There are those who, even understanding it in this way, shrink back from the idea that the Lord gives rewards to His people for service well-done in this life. But it is such a repeated point in Scripture, that we will leave them to argue it out against the Holy Spirit. Instead, accepting this truth at His Word, let us marvel at His grace and generosity, and see how richly He has laid before us motivations to serve according to His instructions rather than our imaginations!
What service are you doing in the building of Christ’s church? From where in the Bible is your method?
Suggested songs: ARP119I “According to Your Word, O Lord” or TPH402 “Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation”

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

2018.06.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 25:19-28

Questions for Littles: Whose genealogy is this (v19)? How old was Isaac when they got married (v20)? Why did Isaac plead with Yahweh (v21)? How did Yahweh respond? Looking at v26, how long had Isaac pleaded, and how long did it take Yahweh to respond? What were the children doing within Rebekah (v22)? What did she do about it? What did Yahweh say was within her womb (v23)? Whom did Yahweh say would be stronger—whom did Yahweh say would serve the other? What did the first twin who came out look like, and what did they call him (v25)? What did his brother do when he came out, and what did they call him (v26)? As the boys grew, what was Esau like (v27)? What was Jacob like? Who was Isaac’s favorite and why? And who was Rebekah’s favorite?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we continued to follow the line of promise, from which Jesus Christ, the Savior, would eventually come. And, we continued to see both man’s sinfulness from which we need to be saved, as well as evidence of God’s gracious work by which He is saving us.

Isaac and Rebekah serve as a warning to us here in v28. As he gets older, Isaac is such a slave to his appetite that it twists his heart. Here, he plays favorites with his children—and even picks his favorite child by his favorite food! Eventually, he won’t even be able to indulge his plan to thwart God about the blessing without satisfying his food craving first. Rebekah too has her favorite in Jacob, the gentler boy, as mothers are tempted to do. More on her later though.

But they weren’t always like that. The Lord had graciously worked in their lives for many years. Let us be warned not to rest upon prior grace, but to always be pressing forward in our walk with the Lord! For twenty years, Isaac’s solution to their childlessness was to pray for his wife. Not blame. Not manipulation. Prayer.

And this had its effect upon his wife. The man whom she had met while he was out praying in the evening prayed for her, cycle after cycle, month after month—more than two hundred months! So, when her pregnancy made her bemoan her very existence, she too prayed.

And the Lord answered. The Lord doesn’t always answer when we ask, “why?” But He did this time. Two nations were in her womb—well, it certainly felt like that, didn’t it! But then again—two peoples. And they were already in a battle. One would be stronger than the other.

Interestingly, as the boys grew up, Rebekah’s faith would be tested. Will Jacob really turn out to be stronger? Will the people of Esau really turn out to be the servants of the people of Jacob? What the Lord’s word had said, and what Rebekah’s eyes seemed to prove were opposites. It may in fact be that, in this particular case, her special favor to Jacob wasn’t favoritism, but faith. Are we willing to trust God’s word over our eyes?

In what situation could you be choosing to pray instead of blaming another?
What is a situation in which you have promises from the Lord, but your eyes seem to be saying something else?
Suggested songs: ARP4 “Answer When I Call” or TPH522 “Behold the Throne of Grace!”

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

2018.06.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 87

Questions for Littles: Where is the foundation of Yahweh’s city (v1)? Whose gates does He love the most (v2)? What kinds of things have been spoken of His city (v3)? From what nations will there be people who know the Lord (v4)? Where will it be said that this one and that one were born (v5)? Who will establish Zion? What will the Lord record about those who know Him from among the peoples (v6)? What do the priestly musicians say (v7)? 
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Confession of Sin came from Psalm 87. Here, we see the devotion of God to His covenant people. He loves the gates of His city—that which defines the going out and coming in, that which sets the boundaries.

It is evident that He takes pleasure in pointing to the new birth of each believer from every nation. Like a father, proudly certifying the birth of His precious child, the Lord is seen (or, better, heard) here, announcing the registration of each one whose name is written in the book of life.

Looking at the list of nations that He singles out in v4, it is evident that He takes special pleasure in the salvation of those from the “toughest” countries. Is anything too hard for God? He loves to give a great salvation.

And what the Lord loves to celebrate, His people love to celebrate. This is not merely a private reflection for us to savor by ourselves. When the priestly musicians are enlisted to mimic the statements of Godin v7, we see that this is a subject of praise for the public worship of the people of God.

Isn’t this the true response to God’s election? God’s choice? God’s effectual calling that gives us the new birth? To praise Him who has done it! (not to argue over whether we think it was fair of Him to save us—of course it wasn’t; it was mercy!).

In particular, let’s give our attention again to the first two lines. Who is the foundation of the city of God? Who is the gate by which alone one may enter Zion? Of course, it is Christ! And this is the answer to why the Lord is so enthusiastic about His church—because it is the church of His Son!!
How does your love for the church imitate God’s? Do you love it for the same reason? Do you love the display of the truth of sovereign grace?
Suggested songs: ARP87 “The Lord’s Foundation” or TPH87A “Zion, Founded on the Mountains”

Monday, June 25, 2018

2018.06.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 13:1-4

Questions for Littles: What kind of love are we to let continue (v1)? Whom else are we to love, according to v2? Whom have some entertained? Whom are we to remember as if right there with them (v3)? How is marriage to be treated (v4)? What is to be kept pure? Whom will God judge?
In the sermon this week, we heard about the various loves that mark a believer who is preparing for glory. Each of the objects of Christian love in vv1-4 have something to do with our destination in the glory of our Lord.

First, we are to love the immediate family. Let brotherly love continue. That means the whole family. The church is our family now. They will be our family forever. This has been a theme throughout the book, ever since chapter 2 showed us Jesus, presenting us in heaven as the children who had been given to Him to retrieve, and to bring home.
Oh, how we should love the members of our congregation! Each one! We’re family.

Second, we are to love the extended family. Elsewhere, Scripture tells us that we are to do good to all, but especially to the household of faith. Here, the command not to forget the love of strangers is followed up by the idea that these particular strangers may turn out to be angels—possibly calling to mind Abraham’s hospitality, but probably referring to hosting Christians whom we don’t know whether they may turn out to be a preacher, who can bring the Word to us.

Third, we are to remember suffering family. We might be separated from them in their suffering, such as those specifically named here—those in prison. But, whenever and wherever Christians—our family—are being mistreated, we are to remember them as if we were chained to them. We are all going through whatever pain is necessary as Father prepares us for Home.

Finally, we are to give our best efforts to our family family. It is a wonderful thing when our household is part of the household of believers. And there is no more precious saint on earth to love than our wives. The Lord gives a triple-reminder here of how much marriage—and the family that is built around one—is the vital unit of earthly congregations and of the church as a whole. First, He has declared marriage honorable. Second, He emphasizes the necessity of keeping it pure. Third, He announces frightful judgments against those who defile it.

Beloved, let us love one another!
What members of the family of God do you most need to work on loving?
Suggested Songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”