Current series in Genesis:

Current series in Galatians:

Monday, July 22, 2019

2019.07.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 15:1-6

Questions for Littles: What came to Abram and when (Genesis 15:1)? What did He tell Abram NOT to do? What two things did He promise to be unto Abram? What reason does Abram give in Genesis 15:2 for this not being as good news to him as it could be? What does Abram say that God has not given him (Genesis 15:3)? What is said (again!) to come to Abram in Genesis 15:4? What does Yahweh say about Eliezer? What does He say about the one who will be Abram’s heir? Where does the Lord bring Abram in Genesis 15:5? Where does He tell Abram to look? What does He tell Abram to try to do? What does He say to Abram about his ability to number the stars? How does Abram respond to Yahweh in Genesis 15:6? What is accounted to Abram through this believing?    
“What can You give me?” The question seems almost blasphemous. Not only was God the One who had made the promise, but what He had promised was Himself.

You see, Abram has a problem. He is going to die. And when he does—at least at this point in his life—the man who would inherit all that he has is Eliezer of Damascus.

From the way Abram puts Genesis 15:3, it sounds as if he is saying “if You had given me offspring, then it would be a part of me that kept on enjoying that ‘exceedingly great reward’ that You’ve just promised.” Indeed, this is confirmed by the Word of Yahweh says, “one who will come from your own body” in Genesis 15:4.

But there’s a promise here about that One, and a separate promise about the many. The Word takes Abram outside and has him count the stars—how very many there would have been! And He says “so shall your descendants be.” But aren’t these going to die too?

Yes, but there is One who will not have the same problem. The bigger part of the promise is the part in verse 4. There is ONE who will be your heir. There is ONE in whom you (and, by the way, alllllll of these descendants) will inherit. There is ONE in whom you will have ME as your strength and your exceedingly great reward. There is ONE in whom even death itself will be unable to take this from you.

And Abram believed God about that one (Genesis 15:6; cf. Romans 4, Galatians 3:6, James 2:23). And he was made righteous before God, and received God Himself as his shield and reward.
When are you going to die? Do you have a shield that is stronger than death?
Suggested Songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH459 “My Hope Is Built”

Saturday, July 20, 2019

2019.07.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 15:1-6

Questions for Littles: What came to Abram and when (Genesis 15:1)? What did He tell Abram NOT to do? What two things did He promise to be unto Abram? What reason does Abram give in Genesis 15:2 for this not being as good news to him as it could be? What does Abram say that God has not given him (Genesis 15:3)? What is said (again!) to come to Abram in Genesis 15:4? What does Yahweh say about Eliezer? What does He say about the one who will be Abram’s heir? Where does the Lord bring Abram in Genesis 15:5? Where does He tell Abram to look? What does He tell Abram to try to do? What does He say to Abram about his ability to number the stars? How does Abram respond to Yahweh in Genesis 15:6? What is accounted to Abram through this believing? 
In the previous passage we heard about how, in order to equip Abram to take a bold stand before the king of Sodom, the Lord sent Melchizedek to prophesy to Abram that his blessing and deliverance came from God Most High. But this was not just a one-time message needed for an occasion in Abram’s life.

Now, the word of Yahweh comes to Abram and speaks in Genesis 15:1. And the word of Yahweh comes to Abram again and speaks in Genesis 15:4. It almost seems from the text that the Word of Yahweh is a Person—and indeed that is exactly how John the Evangelist presents Him in John 1. Here, then, is the second passage in a row where God the Son is presenting Himself to Abram for his faith.

This time, rather than merely telling Abram that his blessing and deliverance come from God Most High, the Word of Yahweh tells Abram that his blessing and deliverance IS Yahweh. What a Shield! What a Reward!

There’s just one problem for Abram. How long will he get to enjoy his inheritance, and who will inherit it after him? To him, the answer seems to be “not long, and Eliezer of Damascus.”

In response, the Word appears to Abram again with a doubly amazing message. The first message is about his Heir—singular. There is one Descendant of Abram who is the focus of God’s promise to be Abram’s Shield and Reward. Ultimately, it is faith in this promised One through which Abram is counted righteous.

The other part of the amazing message isn’t about the one Heir but the many descendants. Not only will Jesus be coming from Abram’s own body, but Abram will have a multitude of seed that is as impossible to count as the stars in the sky! We know from the rest of Scripture that this promise is about those of the faith of Abram, not those of the flesh of Abram. Those who also believe in Jesus, the great Heir of Abram, the One in whom God Himself is our Shield and exceedingly great Reward. Is this your hope—that in Jesus Christ, God Himself is Yours?
What are you tempted to view as your shield instead of God? As your reward?
Suggested Songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly I Am with You” or TPH446 “Be Thou My Vision”

Friday, July 19, 2019

2019.07.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 15:1-8

Questions for Littles: How does Jesus describe Himself in John 15:1? How does Jesus describe His Father? What does the Father do to branches that do not bear fruit (John 15:2)? What does the Father do to the branches that do bear fruit? Why? What does Jesus say that they already are in John 15:3? How did they come to be this way? What does He command them to do in John 15:4? What does He promise to do in response? What cannot happen unless they follow this command? What description of Himself does Jesus now repeat in John 15:5? How does He go on to describe His disciples? How much fruit will they bear if they abide in Him, and He abides in them? What can they do without Him? What happens to the one who does not abide in Jesus (John 15:6)? What does Jesus say will abide in those who abide in Him (John 15:7)? If His words are abiding in them, what will be done for them? Whom are they to glorify (John 15:8)? How does this happen? What does this make them?
As Christ and His apostles leave the upper room (John 14:31), the Lord Jesus continues explaining the work of the Holy Spirit as He will teach them (John 14:26) and produce in them love for Jesus and the keeping of Jesus’s words (John 14:23-24).

As the Spirit’s ministry to them constitutes the Father and Son making Their home in the believer (John 14:23), so also it constitutes the believer abiding in Christ. Jesus says this three times in our passage.

First, in John 15:4, Jesus commands that we abide in Him. There are branches that look like they are on the vine, but there is no vital, internal connection. The life of the vine is not entering the branch, so they bear no fruit. The Father, whose love and fellowship toward us is only ever in Christ, casts out such “branches” from His Son and those connected to Him (John 15:2).

However, for those who are bearing fruit, the work in them is not yet done. The Father continues to minister to them—in His Son, by His Spirit. John 15:3 calls us back to John 13:10-11. Now, Jesus tells us the mechanism by which He joins us to Himself so that we would be clean: the Word which He speaks (verse 3). To this day, we still hear and believe Him through preachers whom He sends (cf. Romans 10:14-17).

But even after we believe in Jesus and belong to Jesus, there is still Word-work to do. The Father, who is with us by His Spirit, has an ongoing ministry to fruit-bearing branches. He prunes them. He cleans them further. Like Jesus washing their feet in ch 13, the Father addresses the areas that still need improvement. This is how we come to bear more fruit (John 15:2), or as John 15:5 puts it, “much fruit”—the second verse in which our abiding in Jesus is mentioned. So this pruning and this abiding in Jesus are one and the same. The Father increases our fruit bearing by making us more and more to abide in the Son.

But what does that pruning look like? What does our abiding in Jesus look like? That brings us to the third mention, where the wording is changed ever so slightly. “If you abide in Me, and My Words abide in you…” Here is the mechanism by which we are pruned—the way of abiding in Jesus: having His Words abide in us.

Sermon hearing, and Bible reading, and mulling over Scripture should be personal. It is not just an exercise in learning. It is an abiding in the Son by the ministry of the Spirit. It is yielding oneself up to the Father, by the Spirit, that He might prune us cleansing us more to make us more fruitful.

As He uses His Word, by His Spirit, to grow us up into His Son, we become closer copies of His Son—disciples (John 15:8), bringing glory to the Father who does this. The Christian life is a Word-saturated, progressive work of the Triune God to produce in us the fruits of fellowship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
When do you read/hear/meditate upon God’s Word? What should you be seeking out of such times? What are you hoping God will do in you in these times of fellowship with Him?
Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH1B “How Blest the Man”

Thursday, July 18, 2019

2019.07.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 1:1-5

Questions for Littles: Who wrote this letter (Galatians 1:1)? What was his title/office? From whom, or through whom, did this apostleship not come? Through Whom did this apostleship come? What had God the Father done to Jesus Christ? From whom else did Paul say this letter was coming (Galatians 1:2)? To whom did the apostle address the letter? What two things does the apostle pronounce upon them as a blessing in Galatians 1:3? From which two Persons? What did the Lord Jesus do for both the apostle and his readers (Galatians 1:4)? In order to do what? According to Whose will? What is due to the Father for this salvation (Galatians 1:5)? For how long? 
How does the apostle begin a letter that is combatting the idea that we can contribute to our salvation, or that rituals like circumcision have in themselves the power to make us better? With an introduction that highlights a ministry that comes only from God, by a power that belongs only to God, to give blessings that come only from God, according to a plan that was devised exclusively by God, all unto a glory that belongs only to God.

A ministry that comes only from God. There were others who claimed to be apostles, but had not been sent out as apostles by Christ. Perhaps there were some who thought this was true of Paul as well, but he reminds them that Christ rose from the dead—that it was the risen Christ who ordained Paul as an apostle.

A power that belongs only to God. There is a second reason for mentioning that Christ has risen from the dead. We can’t do that. Only God can do that. When the work of God in salvation requires the exercise of resurrection power, we have no business trying to add any power of our own to “help”!

Blessings that come only from God. Grace: blessings for those who deserve only curse and strength for those who have only weakness. Peace: God making us who were enemies into His own dear children, and giving us peace in our hearts and minds as a result. Both of these are blessings that by definition cannot come from us.

And, indeed, Galatians 1:3 reminds us that they must come from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. They cannot come from us or from this world. As sinners, apart from Him, we would be members of this present evil age—the very thing from which He delivers us! How, then, could we contribute to that deliverance? What we contribute is our sins. Only He Himself could atone for us, and only He Himself can give Him Himself!

A plan devised exclusively by God. Galatians 1:4 tells us that our deliverance is something that is “according to the will of our God and Father.” It has been planned in advance, and planned by God Himself. It is not open to revision, addition, or enhancement by anything that we invent or do—no matter how much we may suppose that it will help.

A glory that belongs only to God. It is to our God and Father alone that glory belongs forever and ever, Amen! Ultimately, if any goodness or power came from us, it would rob God of some of this glory. God forbid!!
What are some things that you slip into thinking make you more praiseworthy?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace!”

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

2019.07.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Judges 8:22-32

Questions for Littles: What did the men of Israel ask Gideon to do in Judges 8:22? For how long? Why? How does Gideon accept their offer—Whom does he say will really be ruling (Judges 8:23)? What did Gideon ask them for in Judges 8:24? How did the people respond in Judges 8:25? How much gold did Gideon end up with (Judges 8:26)? What else did he receive in this way? What did Gideon make with it (Judges 8:27)? What did he do with that? And what did Israel do with the ephod? What did it become to Gideon and to his house? What was the military-political result of Gideon’s leadership for the nation (Judges 8:28)? Where did Gideon (Jerubbaal) go to live (Judges 8:29)? How many sons did he have (Judges 8:30)? How? What else did he have (Judges 8:31)? What did she do for him? What was the boy called? How did Gideon’s earthly life conclude (Judges 8:32)? 
It’s easy to give good-sounding answers in a moment of time. It’s much more difficult to follow it up with principled living. Gideon’s answer in Judges 8:23 is so self-effacing that it may seem at first that he has declined the people’s request that he become not just king, but the first in a new kingly line.

But we see him taxing the people in Judges 8:24, and inventing new ways of worship in Judges 8:27, and even naming his concubine’s child “my daddy is king” (something we first saw in Genesis, especially among the Philistines). So the passage as a whole makes it clear that he said, “yes.”

What then did he mean in Judges 8:23? Taken altogether, it seems that he was trying to put a “divine right of kings” spin on the people’s request. He’s been into signs thus far. This may be similar: something like “this is a sign that I am the one through whom Yahweh will rule you.”

But it’s not just kingship to which he presumes but high-priesthood. The ark was in Shiloh (or maybe Bethel?), and there was a high priest with the divinely designed and instituted ephod. But Gideon decided to expand his role.

Judges 8:27 tells us that the people loved it—not in the way you love the one that you’re supposed to love (your wife), but in the way that you love the forbidden alternative that seems so flashy and different (harlots). How easy it is to neglect the means that the Lord has appointed and find something else more interesting or appealing instead!

Of course, following after their innovative alternatives was ultimately a rejection of being ruled by Yahweh—the very thing to which Gideon had given lip service in Judges 8:23. But don’t we do that? How many of us are satisfied with the ordinary means of grace day by day in the home and week by week in the congregation? We slide into thinking some other thing is going to be the really effective and enjoyable way of growing spiritually. But if we favor our alternatives, are we really delighting to be ruled by Jesus?
What do you think are going to be the ways that Jesus rules you and grows you?
Suggested songs: ARP131 “My Heart Is Not Exalted, Lord” or TPH131B “Not Haughty Is My Heart”