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 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”