Each week we LIVESTREAM the Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, Lord's Day morning public worship at 11a, and Lord's Day p.m. singing (3p) and sermon (3:45), and the Midweek Sermon and Prayer Meeting at 6:30p on Wednesday

Saturday, July 28, 2018

2018.07.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 13:23-25

Questions for Littles: What does the apostle call Timothy in v23? What does he want them to know? What is he confident will happen to himself soon through their prayers (cf. v18-19)? If Timothy comes by soon, what will Paul do with him? Whom does he first tell them to greet (v24a)? Whom else does he greet (v24b)? Who greet them (v24c)? How does he himself greet them—what does he say (v25)?
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we heard in v22 about how loving one another means helping one another hear preaching and give themselves to it. That’s a form of brotherly love that might be less obvious, but now in vv23-25 he models for us a few ways that are more obvious.

Those who love one another as brethren are interested in what is going on in one another’s lives—especially in the alleviation of suffering. When a brother has been ill, we want to know that he is recovering. When a brother has been imprisoned, we want to know that he has been set free. It’s a subtle emphasis, but we see it in v23 where he says “Know that brother Timothy has been set free.” We are interested—not in a manner of gossip, but in genuine care—to know that things are going well with our brothers.

Those who love one another wish to see one another. Like John at the end of 2John and 3John, this apostle is eager to see his readers—so much so that if Timothy wants to come along, he better get back there quickly! The apostle isn’t even released yet, but he’s planning to see them soon.

Those who love one another greet one another. They don’t just wish their loved ones well, they express to their loved ones that they wish them well. Yes, the apostle is greeting the leaders of their church and every last member of their church. But, he is also setting an example for them, and instructing them, to greet them. Otherwise, v24 would be redundant with v25, as he sends his own closing greeting to them all. Those who are with the apostle in Italy, due in part to his own example, send their own greetings.

And, those who love one another seek primarily for one another not what comes from ourselves but what comes from the Lord. Our working definition of grace is blessing for those who deserve only curse (cf. Eph 2:1-9) and strength for those who have only weakness (cf. 2Cor 12:9-10).

Yes, we serve one another however the Lord gives us privilege to be able to, but much more than that we are seeking for one another God’s grace: God’s joy and God’s strength. Isn’t this what leads us to desire them to receive the preaching, as we saw at the beginning of the passage? Grace be with you!
In whose life are you interested? Whom do you make effort to see? To whom do you express greetings? For whom are you seeking God’s own gladness and strength?
Suggested Songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

Friday, July 27, 2018

2018.07.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 1:14-18

Questions for Littles: What did the Word become (v14)? What does this mean the Word had been before? When the Word became flesh, what did He do? What did the evangelist (John) behold? What kind of glory did they behold in the enfleshed Word? What did this glory mean that He was full of? Who bore witness of Him? Why did John the Evangelist say that Jesus was preferred to him (v15)? From what have received (v16)? What did we receive from His fullness? What was given through Moses (v17)? Through Whom did grace and truth come? Who has seen God (v18)? When has someone seen God? Who has declared (exegeted) God? Where is this Son that declares God?
In the Gospel reading this week, the emphasis is upon Jesus as the full and clear revelation of God.

No one has seen God at any time. In fact, we cannot see God, because He is invisible Spirit. But later in this book, Philip is going to ask to see the Father, and Jesus is going to answer, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”

Jesus’ point in Jn 14:9 is the same as John’s point in our little passage. Jesus is the complete revelation of the Father. There is nothing un-Jesus-like in God. If you have seen Jesus, there is nothing more left to see of God. Once you’ve seen Jesus, there is no longer any ground whatsoever to wish that you could see the Father.

Wow!! Of course, that wasn’t the first time that such a request was made. Moses had asked God to show Himself too, and when God did, He announced His own name in Exodus 34:6, “Yahweh, Yahweh God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.” When that last phrase was translated into Greek, it was exactly the phrase at the end of our v14 today.

Jesus is Yahweh, who declared His name to Moses on the mountain! That’s what v14 is saying. And of course v15 says that He is eternal. And v16 says that He is the God of our salvation—all of our salvation—by grace upon grace. Moses came down from the mountain with the Law, but in Jesus Christ, Yahweh Himself has come down to us—all of that glory now inseparably joined to a human nature forever.

Oh, the wonder of this clause: “The Word became flesh”! If your chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, then there is nothing more central to your existence and your purpose than to know, worship, and enjoy this Jesus Christ, with Whom the rest of the Gospel of John will be preoccupied.

Won’t you give yourself to that study?!
What religions claim to worship the same God as we do? Why don’t they really do so?
Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH280 “Wondrous King, All Glorious”

Thursday, July 26, 2018

2018.07.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1Corinthians 5

Questions for Littles: What kind of sin were the Corinthians tolerating at the time (v1)? How should they have felt about this (v2a)? And what should they have desired (v2b)? Who has already judged the man’s case (v3)? What does Paul command them to do with the man, and how, and why (v4-5)? What happens if a little sin-leaven is allowed to go unchallenged in the lump of the church (v6)? Who is our Passover, and what has been done with Him (v7)? What must we keep without leaven (v8a)? What are the “unleavened bread” for the feast that we do keep (v8b)? With whom were they not to keep company (v9)? Which ones did he not mean and why (v10)? Which immoral people are they not even to eat with (v11)? Whom are they commanded to judge (v12)? Whom may they not judge (v13)?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we find a couple of the Lord’s reasons for church discipline.

One is that an unrepented sin within the membership of the church belongs to the entire church. In v2, he says that they should mourn that the one who has done this deed be taken from them. The implication is that as long as he is among them, and as long as there has not been repentance, the covenantal guild of that sin falls upon the whole body.

A second reason for church discipline is its usefulness in bringing the sinner to his senses. How does this happen? Because the one that is put out of the body is “handed over to Satan” “for the destruction of the flesh.” There is a protection from the attacks of the devil that we receive as members of God’s covenant. Being put out of membership eliminates that protection.

Now, the destruction of the flesh may either mean that Satan’s attacks are material attacks of some sort, or (more likely) that when a believer is handed over to be attacked by the devil, the result is a circumstance that the Lord uses in the believer’s life to mortify the flesh—to put sin to death… to open his eyes to its evil and danger so that he will run to and rest upon the Lord to battle it.

A third reason for church discipline is that unrepented sin in one church member begets unrepented sin in others. We cannot take a nonchalant view of others’ sin and expect that it will not affect our own weakness to sin.

A fourth reason is that whereas Passover was once a year for the Jews, our Passover sacrifice died once for all, and the Corinthians were keeping the feast of His redemption upon a weekly basis. The “unleavened bread” of that feast was sincerity and truth, which must not be compromised by tolerating unrepented sin!

v10 is a very important verse with respect to our Christian identity. Part of our identity in Christ is being hostile and opposed to all of those former aspects of our identity that were sinful. We have a new identity now. Yes, those in the world may have those things as essential to their identity, but Christians must not. If someone who is called “brother” maintains such an identity, we are commanded to break off our fellowship with him (v9-11), and the church is commanded to judge him (v12), and put him out of the membership (v13). It is part of the church’s identity that it practices this discipline every bit as much as it is part of the Christian’s identity that he practices this self-discipline.
Of what recent sin do you need to repent? What should the church do if you don’t?
Suggested songs: ARP32A “What Blessedness ” or TPH354 “Not All the Blood of Beasts”

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

2018.07.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 27:1-40

Questions for Littles: What did Isaac want to do to Esau, but what did he feel like he needed Esau to do first (v1-4)? Who was listening in, and with whom did she make a plan, and what was the plan that she made for him (v5-10)? What was he concerned about, and what solution did she come up with (v11-17)? Of what was Isaac suspicious in vv18-24? What did Isaac still need, in order to get into the blessing mood (v25-26)? How was the part of the blessing in v29 different from the part of the blessing given in v27-28? What two people are surprised in vv30-37? For what does Esau beg with tears in v38? How does his blessing in v39-40 compare with Jacob’s in v27-29?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we find a disaster that has been a long time in coming.

Back in chapter 25, Yahweh had said of the nations in Rebekah’s womb, “One people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.” So, Isaac already knew what the Lord had decreed concerning his sons.

However, it’s just five verses later in chapter 25 that we read, “And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.” It’s not like Isaac couldn’t get food anywhere else. Esau would sell his birthright for a bowl of Jacob’s red stuff (for which he now pleads and weeps for a change of mind). Rebekah whips up a sufficiently delectable meal right here in our verses today.

In other circumstances, Isaac has given such evidence of God’s work in his life. Now, his love for his favorite meal has reduced him to attempting a secret coup against the plan of Almighty God.

It’s not like everyone else is blameless. Rebekah overhears. Whether or not it was an accident, the action taken is very intentional. Apparently, it’s not even entirely unexpected. Who are you, my son? How is it that you have found it so quickly my son?—there was only one other option, right?... after all, the voice is the voice of Jacob(!!?!??!)—Are you really my son Esau?

Jacob was troubled that they might get caught in the lie—but apparently not about the fact that it was a lie! And clever old Rebekah is a block off the old chip—she really turns out to be the sister of Laban after all.

It’s not exactly the script that you or I would write for how the covenant line passed from Isaac to Jacob. But that’s the beauty of it. We are always trying to appear better than we really are, but the Lord doesn’t sugarcoat it. This is what sinners are like. The family from which Jesus comes is a disastrous mess.

There is no Savior, no salvation, except Jesus Christ. Not your family. Not your church. Not your cleverness. Sometimes, we just need a good, honest reminder of what we’re really like, apart from Christ!
Of what mere men are you thankful to have come from? Of what does this remind you about them?
Suggested songs: ARP51A “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH459 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

2018.07.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1Samuel 7:3-12

Questions for Littles: To whom was Samuel speaking (v3)? What did he tell them to do with all their hearts? What did they have to put away? What would they need to prepare, if they were to serve the Lord only? What did Samuel promise, as God’s prophet, would happen if they did this (v3)? How do the people respond in v4? Then what does Samuel offer to do in v5? Even though the people have changed their ways, what do they do and say in v6? And what does Samuel do there? What do the Philistines do, when they realize that Israel is gathered in one place (v7)? And what do the people, now all the more, ask Samuel to do in v8? What does Samuel do, first, before he prays in v9? How does this verse describe his praying? What was Samuel doing in v10? How did the Lord respond? What did the Israelites do in v11? What did Samuel set up in v12?
This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation and Confession of sin came from 1Samuel 7:3-12, a point at which the Lord had severely humbled the Israelites. He had killed more than fifty thousand of them. This was so unbelievable that a few Hebrew manuscripts went ahead and deleted the fifty thousand and just left the seventy!

The question in 6:20 is one that we all need to ask: “Who is able to stand before Yahweh, this holy God?” And there are three good answers here.

The first good answer is: those who come to God through His appointed Mediator. Samuel, here, is acting as a prophet, as a priest, and even as a ruler of sorts (a judge). He is a foreshadowing of Jesus. Who is able to stand before the holy God? The one who comes to Him in Jesus.

The second good answer is: those for whom there is an atoning sacrifice. Again, this looks forward to Jesus. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

The third good answer is: certainly not God’s enemies! The holiness of God, and His almighty power, are great comforts to those who belong to Him in Jesus Christ. We know that no enemy, however powerful, can stand before Him.

At some point, every single one of us is actually going to stand before the holy God. Will we do so, as those who are coming to Him through Jesus Christ, our Prophet, Priest, King, and Atoning Sacrifice? Or will it be as an enemy who is about to perish? Lord, bring us to faith in You!
If you were to stand before the Lord, the holy God, today… could you?
Suggested songs: ARP32A “What Blessedness” or TPH32B “How Blest Is He Whose Trespass”

Monday, July 23, 2018

2018.07.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 13:22

Questions for Littles: To whom does the apostle appeal? With what does he ask them to bear? What kind of word is it? In how many words has he written to them? 
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we heard an outpouring of brotherly love from the apostle.

First, he appeals to his readers. He has the authority of an apostle. He has been reminding them that their elders rule over them. And yet, rather than wielding that authority like a hammer, he literally comes alongside them as a helper.

The verb translated “appeal” here is a form of the word that Jesus uses when promising to send the Holy Spirit as “another Helper.” It’s not that uncommon a verb, but considering that it would have been more natural just to use an imperative—or even to say, “I command you in the Lord”—there does seem to be an emphasis on the difference here.

Even more, it’s an intentional match to the term that describes what kind of word has been sent, translated “word of exhortation.” This word of paraclaeseos was a first-and-second-century term for the sermon in Lord’s Day worship, and it was directly connected to the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.

The term basically means to help in every way possible. It’s built from terms for “called” “alongside.” Jesus promised that there would be another One whom He would send to help His people in every way that they need, when He physically left them and ascended into heaven. And the Holy Spirit uses preaching, especially, to do this: appeal, comfort, command, console, correct, counsel, encourage, exhort, inspire, instruct, persuade, rebuke, teach, urge… and this is an incomplete list!

Here is the apostle, knowing the love of the Holy Spirit, imitating the love of the Holy Spirit, expressing the love of the Holy Spirit, appealing to them as brothers, calling them brothers, knowing the resistance of the flesh to preaching, urging them to overcome it.

Preaching is Jesus, declaring His Father’s name to us on the Lord’s Day, as a primary method of bringing us into His rest—making us to hear the voice that speaks better than the blood of Abel, as He shakes away what will not remain and produces in us the holiness without which we will not see the Lord. The apostle assures them that this is a short sermon and lovingly appeals to them to bear with it—to yield themselves to this episode of the Spirit’s weekly work in them.
How do you help your brothers give themselves to the Holy Spirit’s special help-words?
Suggested Songs: ARP95B “Today If You Will Hear His Voice” or TPH195 “Shine Thou upon Us, Lord”

Saturday, July 21, 2018

2018.07.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 13:20-21

Questions for Littles: Of what is God the God of (v20)? What did He do to the Lord Jesus? What is Jesus’s relation to the sheep? Through what was He raised from the dead? In what does God completely furnish us (v21)? To do what? What does He work in us? Through whom does God work this in us? What does Jesus receive for this work? For how long?
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we learn about God’s glorious intentions for us. The blessing that is pronounced in these two verses is a declaration of what God intends to do—and which, therefore, shall most certainly be done!

Here is one more reason that prayer is so powerful: for, it is not an effort to overcome God’s reluctance, but rather a joyful yielding of ourselves to lay hold of God’s willingness! And behold how willing God is!

First, He is the God of peace. This, of course, is a direct allusion to Numbers 6:22-27. God’s purpose to make us whole and happy—in body, mind, and soul—is so central to how He makes Himself known that He calls Himself, “the God of peace.”

Second, He brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead. Romans 4:25 reminds us the significance of this: Jesus rose on account of our justification. Death could not hold Him, because He had made us legally righteous in God’s sight, and we and He now both must at last be perfectly holy, happy, and healthy forever and ever!

Third, we have Jesus as our Great Shepherd. He is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep. And He is that Psalm 23 Shepherd who takes perfect care of us until at last we dwell in His house forever.

Fourth, this is all secured through the blood of the everlasting covenant. This presents two absolute certainties: that the blood of Christ has forged an unbreakable covenant bond between us and God, and also that God will keep all of His covenant commitments.

Fifth, what is our God committed to doing? Thoroughly furnishing us for every good work—not just in our actions (to do His will), but also in our affections and intentions (working in us what is well-pleasing in His sight).

Sixth, the resource by which God does this in us is Jesus Christ Himself. Both His sufficiency for doing the work, and His praise for having done it, are completely inexhaustible. For what He is doing in us now, and for what He has ever done, and for who He is in Himself, He shall indeed receive glory forever and ever!! Amen indeed.

It is with a declaration of such rock-solid, absolute truths about God, and His intentions toward us and actions for us in Jesus Christ, that Christian worship concludes. When we pray for such things, and then hear such a benediction, what we are hearing is God Himself giving His own AMEN!
What will you do and think about, from now on, during benedictions at the end of worship?
Suggested Songs: ARP121 “I Lift My Eyes and See the Hills” or TPH121A “I Lift My Eyes Up to the Hills”

Friday, July 20, 2018

2018.07.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 1:6-13

Questions for Littles: What was the name of the man sent from God in v6? What did this man come to do (v7)? Why did he bear witness of the Light? Was that man the Light (v8)? Then what was he sent to do? To whom does the true Light give light (v9)? Where was the true Light coming? Where was He, in v10? What was made through Him? What (Whom!) did the world not know, when He was in the world? To what things does v11 say that He came? But what people did not receive Him? What right did the Light give to those who received Him (v12)? What did “receiving Him” mean they had believed in? From where did this birth to believe in Him NOT come (v13a, b, c, d)? From where DID this birth to believe in Him come (v13e)?
In the Gospel reading this week, we heard about the witness named John. Our passage emphasizes that John bore witness to Christ. He announced that the Christ was coming. When Jesus appeared, he announced that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. But our passage doesn’t give those details. It just points out how very much without excuse Israel was, since, on top of everything else that God had done for them, He sent a witness immediately before Jesus, announcing Him.

A second reason they were without excuse is that it was so very obvious that Jesus is God Himself. The creation responded to Him as its Creator. When v11 says, “He came to His own,” the word ‘own’ is neuter in gender. He came to His own things. He came to His own creation. Water, and wind, and seas, and disease, and bread, and fish, and even death itself “received” Him as Creator. The world was made through Him.

But His own (masculine gender this time) people, Israel, did not receive Him.

John has begun his gospel with such high praise of Jesus Christ as Very God of Very God that we immediately begin to wonder—how can it be that everyone did not immediately believe in Him? How can it be that some—indeed, many—hated Him so greatly that they became the human instruments of His crucifixion?

The answer is one of the most important messages of this gospel, and indeed of the entire Bible: “You must be born again.” Your bloodline cannot bring you to faith in Christ. Your fleshly ability cannot bring you to faith in Christ. Your sincerest intentions cannot bring you to faith in Christ. Only a new birth from God—His almighty power completely transforming you into a new, spiritually alive person—can bring you to believe in the name of Him who is the Light.

And, when God gives you that new birth, He also gives You a new family, adopting you and giving you forever the legal right to be called His own dear child! This is a salvation that is by God’s grace from start to finish!

He is the Savior. He gives the faith to be saved. He is the Reward for the saved!
Do you have confidence in Christ to call upon God as your own dear Father?
Suggested songs: ARP103A “O Bless the LORD, My Soul” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place”

Thursday, July 19, 2018

2018.07.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1Corinthians 4:14-21

Questions for Littles: For what reason did Paul not write (v14a)? What does he call the Corinthians? Why did he write? What might they have ten thousand of (v15)? But what do they not have many of? In whom did Paul father (beget) them, and through what? What does he urge them to do in v16? Whom has he sent to them (v17a)? What does he call Timothy? What will Timothy do, to help them to imitate Paul? How are some acting (v18a)? What is this puffed up action failing to take into account (v18b)? What will Paul not know, when he comes (v19)? What will he know instead? What else is not in word but in power (v20)? Who has the choice of the manner in which Paul comes (v21)? What two options do they have for how Paul comes?
In this week’s Epistle reading, Paul invites the Corinthians to turn away from being puffed up and impressed with themselves, and instead to turn to imitating him in living by faith and responding with love even to his enemies.

The “imitate me” in v16 is directly tied to the character of personal godliness described in vv12-13. It seems like a lot of pressure to put on Timothy. Paul is saying, “here’s a son in the faith who is bearing the family resemblance… I’m sending him to you so that you can be reminded by a live example that the gospel has power to transform a man… I’m going to give you not just these words but Timothy as a demonstration of power.”

Of course, one of the main points here is that Timothy himself is not puffed up, but looking always outside of himself and to the Lord alone for spiritual life and strength.

This is something important for our elders to think about: am I looking to Christ to work in me, so that the flock entrusted to my ministry will see real spiritual transformation—a demonstration of the power of Jesus?

It may be even more important for parents to think about. If we have seemingly good words with our children, but they don’t see a sinner saved by grace and living in integrity by that same grace, then we will misrepresent the kingdom of God to them. The kingdom is not in word but in power!

This is one of the reasons that church discipline is so important. While we are still sinners, the church is made up of redeemed, repentant sinners. We should be very different from the world!

Excusing ongoing unrepentant sin and a life lived carelessly for self instead of Christ is NOT a form of extending grace; that kind of worldly life with Christianese words is a living denial that grace actually works!

So, the Corinthians have a choice. Either their way of life comes into line with genuine repentance, or Paul will have no choice but to come “with a rod” when he comes to them. The apostle has a duty, and how they choose to live will either bind him to come with firm discipline or enable him to come with gentle affection.

If elders or parents do well, this is an example for them too. As much as they wish to extend gentle affection always, they have a responsibility before God that actually puts the congregant (or the child) in the place of choosing what kind of interaction they are about to have. God give us such faithful elders/parents, and God grant the repentance that enables the affection!
What sin do you tend to permit? What evidence is there of your repentance/growth in this area?
Suggested songs: ARP51A “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH466 “My Faith Looks Up to Thee”

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

2018.07.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 26:12-35

Questions for Littles: How much did Isaac reap during the famine (v12)? What point does v13 triple-make? What point does v14 triple-more-make? What had the Philistines done to Abraham’s wells (v15)? And what did Abimelech say to Isaac in v16? So, what did Isaac go around doing in v17-18? What did the Philistine shepherds of Gerar keep doing with these wells in vv19-21? What did Isaac say that the Lord had finally done for him in v22? When he went to Beersheba (v23), who appeared to him, and what did He say (v24)? How did Isaac respond (v25)? Then, who came and talked to him (v26)? And what does Isaac ask him (v27)? What kind of people do they all of a sudden sound like in vv28-30? How do they claim to have treated Isaac? Is this true? But what does Isaac do for/with them anyway in v30-31? When they leave, who immediately arrive, and with what news (v32)? What familiar name does Isaac give it (v33)? What becomes a source of grief in v34-35? 
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we find the Lord’s abundant blessing upon Isaac in many ways.

First, though Isaac was a wandering shepherd, all of a sudden he’s the best crop farmer there’s ever been—one hundredfold yield in the midst of a famine. And God prospers, prospers, prospers him with possessions, possessions, possessions. It is obvious that he is materially blessed.

But, second, Isaac is spiritually blessed. Though Isaac is mistreated, God gives him grace to be persistent. One well, after another, which are rightly his, get claimed by the Philistines. But the Lord hasn’t given him the land yet, and he has a promise from God to be taken care of in the famine. So, he just keeps moving on and trusting God—hearty faith in God’s Word enables him to be a peace-loving neighbor.

This spiritual blessing also presents itself in a more immediate way in the Lord’s appearance to him, giving strong reassurance in v24 that reinforces the great covenant promises of vv3-4. For Isaac’s part, the Word of God is even more important than a well of water. Amazingly, he stays in Beersheba, not Rehoboth, even before the well there is reopened.

Again, confidence in God’s promises to him enables him to deal kindly with the politically maneuvering Philistines—Abimelech trying to trade upon his kindness in the Rebekah incident and pretend that he has no control over the shepherds outside Gerar. But Isaac makes peace with them anyway. Let them have their land for now. After all, that guarantees the land to him, since God has promised to him their lands.

The main point here is still looking forward to Christ—the heir of all things who came first as a man of gentleness and peace… the very One who is promised here, and for whose sake Isaac is preserved.

But there is also an example for us, isn’t there? You have been promised that you will inherit the new heavens and new earth with Christ. It is all yours. This enables you to live wisely, stewarding whatever the Lord gives you now for the service of Christ, and (as far as possible) living at peace with all men!

Finally, however, note that there will be hard times. With so many mouths to feed (and water), surely the business about the wells was a great stressor upon Isaac. And who can place a value on the grief of Esau’s marriage choice(es!)? Thankfully, Christ did indeed come, and He has secured for us the promised inheritance. Let us live by faith in Him!
Who is mistreating you right now? How does faith in Christ enable you to react?
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The LORD’s My Shepherd” or TPH474 “If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee”

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

2018.07.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 5:5-11

Questions for Littles: What does hope not do (v5)? Why not—what has been poured out in our hearts? By Whom? What condition were we in, when Christ died for us (v6)? For whom does v6 specifically say that Christ died? For what kind of man would people ordinarily still be unwilling to die (v7)? Who is giving the demonstration in v8? What is He demonstrating? For Whom? In what condition were we when Christ died? For whom did Christ die? Is v9 presenting something that is more certain, or less certain, than sinners such as we are being justified (declared righteous) through Christ’s blood? What is more certain—from what will we be saved? Through Whom? What were we, when we were reconciled to God (v10)? Through what were we reconciled? What condition are we now in? By what shall we be saved (end of v10)? In addition to this certainty, what are we already doing (v11)? In Whom are we rejoicing? Through Whom are we rejoicing? Why—what have we received through Him?
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Confession of Sin came from Romans 5:5-11. This is a passage about those whom God has declared righteous through faith in Jesus Christ (v1). But there are two transitions that have taken place. Legally, they have gone from “sinners” (v8) to “justified” (v9). Relationally, they have gone from “enemies” (v10) to “reconciled (v10,11).

Is this you, dear reader? Have you reconciled the debt of sin, and come to the cross and had it canceled in the permanent ink of the blood of Jesus Christ? If so, then you are reconciled with God!

And the point that our passage is making is that if God’s particular interest in you was that while you were still ungodly and a sinner and an enemy, Christ died for you… how can it even be possible that God’s interest in you has become any less now?

Less interest in one who is declared righteous by the throne of heaven? Less interest in one whose righteousness and reconciliation are the result of being IN CHRIST? Less interest now that you have gone from His enemy to His friend? Of course not! God’s redeeming love and saving interest in you cannot be lost by anything in time, because it is from eternity. It can have no end, because it had no beginning!

Finally, v11 takes the new reflex of our hearts toward God—to be exulting in Him, to be full of His praise—and says that this new life of rejoicing is an evidence and seal of our reconciliation.

So, may I ask you, dear reader—do you rejoice over God’s great redeeming love and saving acts?

Then, let no trouble ever discourage you—this recognition of God’s love has been spread into the corners of your heart by the Holy Spirit Himself. It is impossible that this hope would at last be disappointed!
Are you personally familiar with this rejoicing over the love of God with your whole heart?
Suggested songs: ARP32A “What Blessedness” or TPH431 “And Can It Be That I Should Gain”

Monday, July 16, 2018

2018.07.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 13:18-19

Questions for Littles: What does the apostle want them to do for him (v18)? Of what is he confident? What does he desire to do in all things? But why does he especially urge them to pray for him (v19)?  
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we learn the necessity and power of prayer.

First, we find the necessity of prayer in the command. “Pray for us,” says the apostle. You remember those who are prisoners (v3). You remember those who spoke the Word of God to you (v7). Remember us, too, in prayer.

This is the greatest service that we ever may do to those who are nearest to us: to go to the throne of heaven, armed with the blood and righteousness of Christ, and ask to have done all of the holy will of our most merciful and gracious God.

And even for those most distant, we may yet perform this greatest service!

Second, we find the necessity of prayer by considering him who asks for it in this text: the eminent apostle himself. Now, if the apostle needed prayer, how much do you need it? How much do those whom you care about it need it? How much do those whom God brings to mind need it?

In particular, the apostle needed prayer for his release and subsequent restoration to them. For those whom God places in positions where they come under the attack of the enemies of Christ, He calls us to the service of prayer!

Because God commands it, we do not ask “what good does it do” by way of challenge or rebellion. Rather, assuming that God commands us to do that which is good, we genuinely wonder: what does prayer accomplish? If all of God’s works are known to Him from the foundation of the world, does prayer change anything?

And the answer in this passage is: it absolutely does! The apostle believes that he and his companions have a good case to make before the judge. They have a good conscience, which is to say that they cannot think of a true charge against them. This is a strong plea both with the human judge, and with the divine Father who would give whatever strokes of discipline were necessary to a wayward child.

The apostle is an example to us in this: remember that he is speaking the Word of God to you, and follow the faith that has produced his good conscience, just as you follow the faith of your leaders, whose conduct was the fruit of faith and love in Christ. Let us follow the apostle in desiring to live honorably and in maintaining a good conscience.

But, the apostle now urges his readers to pray. Why? So that he may be released to them sooner. What? Can this eminent apostle really believe that if the readers do not pray, it will be longer; but, if the readers do pray, the apostle’s release will be sooner? That is exactly what he says!

Yes, known to God are all His works from the foundation of the world. And among those works are commanding His people to prayer, and moving His people to prayer, and sustaining His people in prayer. Prayer doesn’t change His plan, but it does change our circumstances, because He who rules over those circumstances has revealed Himself as the God who graciously hears and answers prayer! Therefore, prayer is an exceedingly powerful action, for it moves the hand of Almighty God!
For whom ought you especially to be praying? What might God be planning to do through you?
Suggested Songs: ARP4 “Answer When I Call” or TPH518 “Come, My Soul, with Every Care”

Saturday, July 14, 2018

2018.07.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 13:13-17

Questions for Littles: Where does v13 say to go to find Jesus? What do we bear there? What don’t we seek here (v14)? What do we seek? What kind of “sacrifices” should we offer in our worship then (v15)? And what else are we to offer as “sacrifices” in addition to worship (v16)? In addition to remembering and imitating our leaders (from v7), what two things does v17 instruct us to do with them? For what are they watching out? Who must give account? What difference can we make in the manner in which they give account?
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we were reminded that when Jesus is the substance of our worship, unbelievers find it rather unimpressive. The Jews had their very visible, impressive temple. Even the apostles had been impressed with the buildings, and even their stones.

But we don’t have a city. We don’t have great buildings, made out of great stones, to show off to unbelievers. What we have is something yet to come. And the unbeliever, who does not have that biblical faith that treats the future as sure, responds to what we have by calling it, “Pie in the sky, bye and bye.”

Let the unbeliever despise it. Let him reproach it. It is the reproach of Christ, and we rejoice to have it fall upon us (cf. Rom 15:3).

We also don’t have very humanly impressive sacrifices. What sacrifices do we have to offer? In worship, we offer the sacrifice of the sound of songs coming off of our lips, praising and thanking God. Beyond the worship services, we have the doing of things that benefit others, and the sharing of ourselves and our things (the word in v16 is koinonia: fellowship, sharing).

Not impressive to man, but pleasing to God. And the leaders that the Lord has given us to speak the Word to us also watch out for our souls. It is apparent that one of the things that they do is persuade us of what we need to do, because we are to obey and yield to them. Both verbs occur primarily in situations where one is reasoning, and the other yields (submits) and does (obeys) what the one is reasoning with him to do.

So, Christ has entrusted the care of our souls to men on earth. In order to help us live lives that please Him, He has given us men who not only preach and teach in public worship, but have an active ministry of urging and encouraging us to do particular things—even and especially things that we are at first resistant to, but which here He commands us to give in to do.

That requires some humility from us doesn’t it? It requires trusting and obeying Jesus, whose Word this is—and from whose Word they are to be reasoning with us. And it requires our acknowledging that one way or another, this is Jesus’s plan for the care of our souls. We can either act in a way that their ruling over us is a grief to them or a joy to them—and the Lord puts it quite frankly to us: being a resistant pain hurts you too.
What kind of worshiping and living does God like? Who are your leaders who help you?
Suggested Songs: ARP131 “My Heart Is Not Exalted, Lord” or TPH131B “Not Haughty Is My Heart”

Friday, July 13, 2018

2018.07.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 1:1-5

Questions for Littles: When was the Word already there (v1)? With whom was the Word at that time? Who was He at that time? Who was with (literally, “toward,” or “facing”) God in the beginning (v2)? What was made through Him (v3)? What wasn’t made through Him? What was in Him (v4)? What did men receive from this light? What does the light do now (v5)? What has the former light of men become? What can’t the darkness grasp? 
In the Gospel reading this week, we began the Gospel of John. In Mark, the primary emphasis was a rapid ransom mission in which, by dying on the cross and rising again, Jesus sets free from sin and guilt everyone who believes in Him.

That’s true in John too, but now the emphasis is more upon a recovery mission: God, the eternally glorious Son, breaking into time to retrieve the adopted children, and bring them home to Father, where they will enjoy Him (Christ) as the very glory of the Father Himself, forever and ever.

So John begins by taking us literally to the beginning: the glory that Jesus had with God before the world began—from all eternity, the Father and the Son (with the Spirit, who is not explicitly mentioned here) in perfect and equal glory and power, of one substance.

This glory, God displayed by creating, and of course the Son is the Creator every bit as much as the Father is. Because the Word was God. So everything else that is not God is created by the Word. He is, therefore, very God of very God from the beginning. No wonder various cults either deny or rewrite this portion of Scripture!

And what a glorious beginning for man: the life of the Word Himself was given to men to be their light. Man was made in His image. Nothing else in creation can make that claim.

Sadly, man fell quickly. His light became darkness—so dark, in fact, that when the Word Himself came and shined in the darkness, men were unable to grasp His light.

So now, we are set up to learn more about the incarnation, more about Jesus bringing to the world the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, more about our darkness and our need for the Spirit to give us new birth. Let us prepare to have our hearts and minds seized by the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ in the gospel of John!
Who is Jesus? What has He done? What do you need Him to do in you?
Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH209 “O Splendor of God’s Glory Bright”

Thursday, July 12, 2018

2018.07.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1Corinthians 4:6-13

Questions for Littles: To whom has Paul applied these things (v6)? What does He not want them to think beyond? Against whom does he not want them to be puffed up? What is the expected answer to the first two questions in v7? What three things does Paul sarcastically say that they have achieved in v8? Like what does he say that God has displayed the apostles (v9)? What three comparisons does he sarcastically make between the Corinthians and the apostles in v10? What are some of the circumstances that have accompanied true apostleship in v11? What are some of the habits or character traits in vv12-13 that belong to true apostleship? What does this look like in the eyes of others (v13)? 
In this week’s Epistle reading, the apostle points out to the Corinthian church that the true apostles are like the filthy slop and grime that has been removed from something filthy during the cleaning process.

Our day—like theirs—is plagued with “health and wealth” gospel, but the apostle presents to us the “hurt and filth” gospel.

He wants to make well sure that no one thinks of him (or Apollos) any higher than what he has written here (v6). And he wants to leave no room for their own boasting either (v6-7).

The Corinthians think that they are doing so great because they think that they look so great (v8). But, if the most eminent believers, the apostles, look like men condemned to death, whose distinguishing characteristics are folly, weakness, and dishonor… can earthly admiration ever be a test of true greatness?

The Corinthians think that they are doing so great because they have so much. But if the most eminent believers, the apostles, had no food, no drink, no clothing, no home… can earthly possessions ever be a test of true greatness?

What are more reliable indicators of true spiritual greatness? The first one listed is diligence—but within the immediate context, that opening clause in v12 may really be indicating service of others. What comes through most of all is love of enemy.

Blessing instead of cursing when cursed. Love of enemy. Endurance instead of revenge when mistreated. Love of enemy. Exhortation rather than slander when slandered. Love of enemy.

What does true Christianity look like? Well, it looks like obeying the great commandments to love God and men, but when we cut to the chase, its most distinguishing mark is when we love our enemies and show ourselves to be children of our Father in heaven (cf. Matthew 5:44-45).
Whom are you tempted to look down upon? What false reasons are you tempted to be proud of yourself? What enemy should you be loving? 
Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH488 “May the Mind of Christ, My Savior”

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

2018.07.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 26:1-11

Questions for Littles: What was in the land in v1? What other famine does it mention (cf. Gen 12:10)? Where had Abraham gone? What had happened? Where does Isaac go? What does Yahweh appear in order to tell Isaac in v2? What hope does the Lord give Isaac for surviving the famine in v3? What will the Lord perform for him? What promise does the Lord make about Isaac’s seed in v4? What reason does the Lord give Isaac for the fact that He will take care of him? What does Isaac say about his wife in v7? Why? Where have we seen this before? Who notices that she is more than just his wife (v8)? Who rebukes whom in vv9-10? What action does Abimelech take in response to Isaac’s sin in v11?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, the Lord gives His people reason for both confidence and humility.

First, confidence. He is determined to keep His promises to Abraham (v3). He sustained Abraham in obedience and faithfulness, and He has given us also those same charges, commandments, statutes, and laws which may be kept by His grace alone.

Food is not as certain a guarantee of being fed as having the Lord with us to bless us (v3). Military and political strength is not as certain a guarantee of surviving in Philistine territory as having the Lord with us to bless us.

Just as the Lord was determined to bring into the world that seed of Isaac in which all of the nations of the earth would be blessed, so also the Lord is now determined to bring to Christ and to preserve in Christ all of those for whom Christ died. Now that is a cause for confidence indeed!

But there is also cause for humility here. It was hard enough that earlier in Genesis the Israelites had to suffer through seeing Pharaoh rebuke Abraham, and then Abimelech rebuke Abraham. But here is another Abimelech, another Philistine king, who is far outclassing Father Isaac morally.

Abimelech sees Isaac Isaacking (literally) his wife in v8. He does the right thing and confronts Isaac, whose response is basically an accusation that everyone know that Philistines are a bunch of immoral thugs.

Abimelech’s response to this is to explain to the poor, benighted covenantal patriarch that they actually care very much not to bring guilt upon themselves before God, which is exactly what Isaac himself could have ended up doing to them!

As if that isn’t humbling enough for God’s people to have to read in their history, he then turns around and, rather than exacting some form of revenge, or implementing some harsh penalty, he issues a proclamation of protection, treating Isaac as an honored guest of the nation!

How important it is that the Lord’s people remain humble, knowing that it is only the Lord’s purposes toward them and the Lord’s power in them that brings any good from them!
In what circumstances do you need confidence that the Lord will keep you? And against what people have you been tempted to be proud, though apart from grace you are worse?
Suggested songs: ARP130 “Lord, from the Depths” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place”

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

2018.07.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 42:1-4

Questions for Littles: Whom are we to behold (v1)? Whom does God uphold? What does the Lord’s soul do in His chosen One? What has the Lord put upon Him? What will He bring forth to the Gentiles? What three things does v2 say that the servant will not do? What will the Servant not do to a bruise reed (v3)? What will He not do to a smoldering wick? What will He faithfully bring forth? What two things does v4 say that He will not do? For what will the coastlands wait?
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Confession of Sin came from Isaiah 42. Oh, how we need both the strength and gentleness of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here is true manliness from the great and true Man Himself: not brash harshness or rudeness excusing its gruffness on the grounds of not belonging to the fairer sex. No, true manliness is found in this combination of gentleness and strength.

First, gentleness. It is amazing that the Lord says of the Christ that He will not cry out or raise His voice—that He won’t case His voice to be heard in the street. For, the Christ is the forever-King, the great and last Prophet. He has every right to be heard. But He is not a pusher of His rights. Instead, He is meek and gentle.

Rather than pushing His rights, He focuses upon reviving His people. There is the person who is like a bruised reed—bent, almost broken… just the lightest further mis-touch would end him. And behold the gentleness and skill of Jesus, who handles the reed without breaking it—able to faithfully bring forth righteousness out of such an one as this.

And there is the person who is like the smoldering wick—not enough fuel drawn up into it, drying out of its own accord, about to lose the last spark of life in him. But here comes Jesus, who is so gentle with us that in adding new fuel He does not snuff us out. Dear foundering Christian, behold your gentle Savior!

But behold also His strength. He will not fail. He will not be discouraged. He always presses on and continues with a work that will surely be done. He has counted the cost and now lays it out.

His success in faithfully bringing forth righteousness with the weakest individual in v3 is a microcosm of His work, bringing for that righteousness, that justice, until it has covered the whole earth. He who patiently works through the story of the believer’s life also works persistently through the history of His church in the world, until He has accomplished all His holy will.

Even the furthest reaches—here, the coastlands—are pictured as patiently waiting for the sure success of the Savior. What glorious strength to go with His gentleness!
In what current failing do you need Jesus gentle with you? How does it also comfort you to know that His strength will surely finish and accomplish His work?
Suggested songs: ARP32B “Instruction I Will Give to You” or TPH243 “How Firm a Foundation”

Monday, July 09, 2018

2018.07.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 13:7-12

Questions for Littles: Whom does v7 say to remember? What have our leaders spoken to us? What are we to follow? What are we to consider? Who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (v8)? By what are we not to be carried about (v9)? By what is the heart to be established? By what is the heart not to be established? Who may not eat from the same altar that we do (v10)? What happens to the bodies of the animals whose blood the high priest offers for sin (v11)? So, where did Jesus suffer His “burning” (v12)? And what has He done with His blood?  
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we heard about how Christ works from heaven in the hearts and lives of His people who are yet on earth.

One of these ways is the elders who spoke the Word to us. Some of them are now in glory. And even with those elders who are still with us, the Lord has worked in their lives and grown them by grace.
Jesus’s work in elders’ lives has produced an outcome in their manner of life. And Jesus hasn’t changed. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. Therefore, we are to imitate their faith.

You can’t actually imitate their life by mimicking outward behavior. Rather, it is their faith—holding onto the Word of Christ, and responding to Him—that we must imitate. We are to take what “He Himself has said,” and turn it over into what “we may boldly say,” as we seek to live lives of love unto God and man. Sound familiar (v5-6)? Well, it should look familiar too (the lives of our elders).
So, Christ in heaven speaks His Word by means of men in whom He has already worked by that Word. And He uses His word on their lips to do similar work in us.

But here there is also a second way that He works in us: His sacraments. He feeds us from His table, and He sprinkles us with His blood. The altar on which Christ bore the fire of God’s wrath against our sin is the cross itself. And here, of the supper, v10 says that we have an altar from which tabernacle worshipers have no right to eat.

The implication is that we have been given a better meal. It’s not beef or mutton. And, it has 1500 years less tradition than the tabernacle meals. But the meal itself isn’t the bread and wine so much as it is the grace of Christ. And this is a meal which actually does establish the heart. Everyone who believes in Him has everlasting life. So the believer who comes to the table and feeds upon not dead flesh but a living Christ enjoys a union and communion with Him that always ends (or, perhaps better put, “never ends”) in everlasting life.

Jesus Christ has been establishing and keeping His people by Word and sacrament for two thousand years. And this is how He establishes and keeps us too!
How does Christ establish your heart? How does He produce the outcome of your conduct?
Suggested Songs: ARP19B “The Lord’s Most Perfect Law” or TPH271 “Blessed Jesus, at Your Word”

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”