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, July 07, 2018

2018.07.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 13:6

Questions for Littles: Who may now say something? How may they say it? Whom do I say is my helper? What will I not do? Who can do me no ultimate harm? 
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we heard the mechanism by which we embrace God’s love for us, in order to stir up our love for Him and others: His Word.

At first, we might have missed it in v5. We might just have seen that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

But then v6 begins, “So we may boldly say…” This is a parallel follow-up to where v5 says, “For He Himself has said…” There’s an extra pronoun in there. The verb already has the “He” implied. So there’s an emphasis upon His action of speaking there in v5.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!

He Himself has said. So we may say.

And that’s what we need to be doing, according to v6. Meditating upon the Word of God. That’s what the Old Testament would have called it. Christian meditation isn’t a mental inactivity. It’s a verbal activity. We take what God has said, and we preach it to ourselves.

Not just tell it. Preach it. Notice that v6 takes us a step further in content than v5. In the Lord’s speech in v5, He tells us that He will never leave us nor forsake us. But in our speech, we proceed to tell ourselves the differences that His continual presence make.

He will never leave us, so He is always present to help us. The Lord is my Helper. He will never leave us, so we never need to fear. I never need to fear. He will never leave us, so all things must work together for our good. What can man do to me?

If we are going to live lives of extraordinary love, it will not be enough merely to know the gospel or to have believed it at some point in the past. The Lord’s means of upholding this life of love is by our continually, intentionally dwelling upon the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. He gave Himself for us, and He gave Himself to us. Forever!
What habits help you preach the gospel to yourself continually?
Suggested Songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH243 “How Firm a Foundation”

Friday, July 06, 2018

2018.07.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 16:9-20

Questions for Littles: When did Jesus rise from the dead (v9)? To whom did He appear first? Whom did she tell (v10)? What did they do when they heard that she had seen Him (v11)? To whom did He appear after that (v12)? Whom did they tell (v13)? And with what result? What did He do when He appeared to the eleven (v14)? What did He tell them to do (v15)? What happens to the one who believes (16a)? What happens to the one who does not believe (16b)? Which apostles were followed by the signs in v17-18? What happened after He had spoken to them (v19)? What did they do (v20)? When were the signs fulfilled? 
In the Gospel reading this week, we have the appropriately rapid ending to the gospel of Mark. The writer whom the Holy Spirit carried to keep saying “immediately… immediately… immediately” takes us through Mary and the twelve, the road to Emmaus, the doubting disciples, the Great Commission, the ascension, the Session of Christ, and even the spread of the gospel with its accompanying signs. All in 12 verses!

The main point is clear: Jesus really did die and really did rise again, and you had better believe it! In v11, we’re disappointed that they did not believe. In v13, we’re disappointed that, again, they didn’t believe. So in v14, Jesus Himself rebukes them for not believing. Then in v16, He presses upon them how believing in Him is what makes an eternal difference.

Interestingly, in v17 and 18, Jesus establishes the signs not as things that cause faith but that happen alongside faith (parakoloutheo). In other words, the role of these signs is to strengthen faith that comes through the Word. And that’s exactly what v20 says happened.

Ultimately, that’s the most important takeaway for you, as we finish the gospel of Mark together. Do you believe that Jesus is God the Son, who became a man—the promised forever-King? Do you believe that He brought His kingdom of righteousness, and has paid for your entry into it with His own blood, because your sin had to be wiped away? Do you believe that He is sitting at the right hand of God in glory right now, and is soon to return? Your heart’s answer to these questions is the difference between heaven and hell for you!
What do you need to believe? What does your life look like if you do?
Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH459 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

Thursday, July 05, 2018

2018.07.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1Corinthians 3:18-4:5

Questions for Littles: What should someone who seems wise in this age do (v18)? What is worldly wisdom before God (v19)? What does God do to man’s wisdom (v19-20)? In whom must we not boast (v21)? What is serving our glory (v22)? For whose glory are we employed (23a)? For whose glory is Christ employed (23b)? How are preachers to be considered (4:1)? What should they be aiming at (v2)? Who alone can judge our service to the Lord (v3-4)? What amazing thing will come from God for His faithful servants (v5)? 
In this week’s Epistle reading, we learn not to want to look good before others. The Lord flat-out tells us that’s a trap. Oh, how our hearts need to hear that! As soon as we begin to desire the admiration of men, alarms should be going off in our minds, “That’s a trap! That’s a trap!”

God catches the “wise” (fear quotes for humanist wisdom!) in their craftiness. The thoughts of the “wise” are futile—useless.

And look at what such wisdom boasts in—being connected to a celebrity pastor? Really? When every believer has God literally moving all of heaven and earth to bring them to Himself and fit them for glory?!

And what is the point of all of this work to prepare us for glory? That we would be glorious in and of ourselves forever? Of course not! But rather so that we would shine marvelously unto the glory of Christ our Redeemer! And that Christ’s great glory as Redeemer would redound unto the everlasting display of the infinite glory of GOD!!

And we’re going to brag, “I follow so and so”? Or, “I go to such and such church”? How about: “I have all of heaven and earth being bent unto my good and my glory by almighty God”!

What a ridiculous thing celebrity culture is in the church. Now, that doesn’t mean that ministry isn’t important. Indeed—God builds His church by the preaching of the Word. But, what do these preachers do? Amass followings for themselves? No—they are servants sent out in Christ’s name, to whom have been entrusted the mysteries of God: those truths that God has revealed.

And it is their job to proclaim those truths as faithfully as possible. Not to satisfy men. Not even to satisfy themselves (v4!!). We would think it terrifying that the Lord Himself will judge our faithfulness. But then we see that by His grace, and for Christ’s sake, God is actually going to praise His true servants. How merciful and generous is that?!
Whom are you tempted to try to impress? How can you focus on faithfulness instead?
Suggested songs: ARP131 “My Heart Is Not Exalted” or TPH131B “Not Haughty Is My Heart”

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

2018.07.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 25:29-34

Questions for Littles: Who was boiling some food in v29? Who came in from the field? What did Esau ask for (v30)? What did Jacob demand first (v31)? What did Esau say about his situation (v32)? What did Jacob keep insisting that he do (v33)? What did Esau do? What does v34 say that Esau had done to his birthright?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, Esau trades a moment of fleeting pleasure for his birthright.

Sure he was hungry, perhaps even faint with hunger according to the word used, but he wasn’t starving. It’s like a lot of children say when they’re clamoring to have their supper without any more delay: “I’m staaaarving!!” No. You’re. Not.

Literally, Esau says, “Make me devour! Please! The red! That red! I’m starving!”

No wonder they called him Red. Like father, like son. One track mind. We wouldn’t even put it past Jacob to know just what food to happen to be cooking at the entrance to camp, in order to tighten the screws upon his brother. You know Red; he’s a sucker for that red stuff!

Well, Esau’s wickedness was in a lack of control. He couldn’t contain his appetite, and treated as nothing a birthright that included fathering the line of promise! Oh, what eternal treasure one may trade for a moment of pleasure! He sprouted for himself a root of bitterness.

Jacob’s wickedness was not in a lack of control, but in maintaining a heartless, calculating, grip on control. He knew he had him, and he demanded an oath.

He didn’t need to do this. Undoubtedly, his mother had shared with him God’s Word about his destiny. But Jacob didn’t trust the Lord to bring it about. And that’s the greater sin here. Not so much that Jacob tried to control Esau, but that Jacob was trying so hard to be in control because he didn’t believe that God was.

I wonder if you can identify with that felt need, dear Christian—the need to be in control. If we act upon it, we can do real damage to others and to our relationships with them. But, even worse, we expose a grievous defect in our relationship with the Lord.

It is just as important to trust that the Lord is in control over everything as it is for us to practice the discipline of self-control of our desires!
In what area do you need more self-control? What circumstance is testing your trust in the Lord?
Suggested songs: ARP127 “Unless the Lord” or TPH231 “Whate’er My God Ordains Is Right”

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

2018.07.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 12:22-13:4

Questions for Littles: Where does the church gather for worship on the Lord’s Days (v22)? With whom does the church gather on the Lord’s Days (v22-23)? Who is the Priest who leads that worship (v24)? Who is the Preacher who preaches in it (v25)? What is He using that worship to prepare us to receive (v25-28)? How should we participate in that worship (v28)? What kind of earthly life does that worship produce (13:1-4)?
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Confession of Sin came from Hebrews 12:22-13:4. As a review of the last several sermons, this passage also prepared us for the Lord’s Day morning text and sermon. So, it serves us well to review their teaching.

First, congregational worship on the Lord’s Day joins a celebration already in progress in glory, where Christ’s gospel accomplishments are being delighted in by angels, perfected saints, and even God Himself.

Second, Jesus is the leader of this worship. He is the Great High Priest who is the Mediator of this new (everlasting) covenant. And the blood that has sprinkled everything to sanctify it is not the blood of bulls and goats, but His own blood, which overcomes all of the guilt of all of His people’s sins.

Third, Jesus is the preacher in this worship. He speaks from heaven, and He calls for a response from us. We must not come out of worship unchanged, which would be to refuse Him who speaks. Rather, we take all of His truth to heart, and all of His instruction as marching orders for our lives.

Fourth, we rejoice that rather than our trying to worship Him well enough to get something from Him, He has already designed His own worship as the method by which He is giving us an unshakeable kingdom.

Fifth, when we come to such worship, through such a Mediator, we must do so according to His prescriptions, with dignity of manner, and reverence of heart. We come by grace, but we still come to a Holy God!

Finally, this God-loving worship sends us out into a neighbor-loving life. Love of brother. Love of stranger. Love of sufferer. Love of spouse.
How do you prepare for worship? What do you do during? How do you follow up?
Suggested songs: ARP184 “Adoration and Submission” or TPH95C “Now with Joyful Exultation”

Monday, July 02, 2018

2018.07.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 13:5

Questions for Littles: What should our conduct be without? What should we be instead? With what should we be content? Whose speech is a reason for us to be content? What has He said? When will the Lord leave us? What else will the Lord never do? 
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we learned how to love our brothers, love outsiders, love the sufferers, and love our wives.

Interestingly, the solution was something NOT to love—silver! Of course, the verb for love-silver (compare to love-brother and love-stranger from vv1-2) had come to mean any kind of covetousness: an inordinate love of things.

Covetousness is such a danger. If the poor think that they would stop thinking about wealth so much if they would just become wealthy, then they have missed the point of this verse. The problem is in what the heart loves. And the wealthy are just as susceptible to this—even more. Remember the rich young ruler?

The essence of love is giving OF oneself. For God so loved the world… that He gave His only begotten Son. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He love us… and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Well, it’s very difficult to give of ourselves if we are obsessed with getting for ourselves. But this is exactly the point at which our verse meets us. God Himself has loved us. God has given Himself to us. God has promised never to take Himself from us. He has loved us.

Truly, we love, because He first loved us!

Do we desire to be the kind of brother-loving, stranger-loving, sufferr-loving, spouse-loving people that we are commanded to be? Let us begin by embracing the love of God for us. Let us begin by counting it worth more to have Him than it would be to have everything and everyone else.

This is how God resolved Asaph’s covetousness (Ps 73), and it will spare us too!
In what daily and weekly exercises do you embrace God’s gift of Himself to you?
Suggested Songs: ARP73C “Christian Unity” or TPH73C “In Sweet Communion”