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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

2019.11.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 7:20-8:2

Questions from the Scripture text: Who wasn’t Jesus made priest without (Hebrews 7:20)? What did the others become priest without (Hebrews 7:21a)? Who swore an oath to Jesus that He would be priest forever (verse 21b)? Who has become surety of our covenant (Hebrews 7:22)? Of what kind of covenant has He become surety for us? Why were there many priests in the previous covenant (Hebrews 7:23)? Who continues forever (Hebrews 7:24)? Why is Jesus’s priesthood unchangeable? Who is able to save those who come to God through Him (Hebrews 7:25a)? How completely is He able to save them (verse 25b)? Why is He able to save them to the uttermost? Who is the High Priest who was fitting for us (Hebrews 7:26a)? What five things in verse 26 describe how and why Jesus is fitting? What does Jesus not need to do daily (Hebrews 7:27a)? What did Jesus do once for all (verse 27b)? What kind of men did the law appoint as priests (Hebrews 7:28a)? What appointed a perfected Son forever (verse 28b)? Who has the kind of High Priest that Hebrews 8:1 describes? Where is He seated? In what sanctuary (holy place) and tabernacle does He serve (Hebrews 8:2)? Who erected it? 
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, Confession of Sin, and Assurance of Pardon come from Hebrews 7:20-8:2.

Jesus has finished the work of atoning for us. The moment that one believes savingly in Christ, he is as justified as he will be in glory. But Jesus isn’t finished with His work as our Mediator, because He has given Himself to do more than just atone for us. He has also given Himself to intercede for us. In our passage, the focus is upon God’s having given Christ, from among men, to be our Priest forever.

With what great confidence we should come to “the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Hebrews 8:1)!

We come through Him to Whom Yahweh has sworn that His priesthood continues forever (Hebrews 7:21, cf. Psalm 110:4).

  • We come through Him who has secured the blessings of a superior covenant (Hebrews 7:22). 
  • We come through Him who is able to save us to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25a). 
  • We come through Him who lives forever (verse 25b). 
  • We come through Him who makes intercession for us (verse 25c). 
  • We come through Him who is holy (Hebrews 7:26). 
  • We come through Him who literally does no evil thing (“harmless” in NKJV). 
  • We come through Him who is unstained. 
  • We come through Him who is not corrupted by proximity to sinners. 
  • We come through Him whose sacrifice has put our sin away once for all (Hebrews 7:27). 
  • We come through Him who is the Beloved Son (Hebrews 7:28). 
  • We come through Him who has flawlessly and completely qualified forever to be our Priest.
  • We come to Him who is seated at the right hand of the throne (Hebrews 8:1).
  • We come to Him who is Priest not of an earthly tabernacle, but of that heavenly glory of which the earthly one was a copy (Hebrews 8:2)

One of the reasons that we don’t come to worship with enough wonder is because we give little attention to Him through Whom we come, and therefore we little appreciate what glorious access we have been given in Him. O that the Spirit would stir up our hearts to appreciate Him and the entrance He has given us into glory in New Testament worship!
About which of the characteristics of Christ’s priesthood did you most need to be reminded?
Suggested songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken to My Lord” or TPH275 “Arise, My Soul, Arise”

Monday, November 18, 2019

2019.11.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 21:22-34

Questions from the Scripture text: Who come and speak to Abraham (Genesis 21:22)? What have they noticed? What do they ask him to do in Genesis 21:23? How does Abraham answer at first (Genesis 21:24)? But what does Abraham want cleared up first (Genesis 21:25)? How does Abimelech answer (Genesis 21:26)? What does Abraham give to Abimelech as a sign of covenanting (Genesis 21:27)? From these, what does Abraham set apart (Genesis 21:28)? What does Abimelech ask (Genesis 21:29)? To what does Abraham say that the seven ewe lambs are a witness (Genesis 21:30)? What does he call the place (Genesis 21:31)? What had they done when all was said and done (Genesis 21:32)? Where do Abimelech and Phicol go? What does Abraham plant there (Genesis 21:33)? Then what does he do? Where does he stay and for how long (Genesis 21:34)? 
Those who are outside the church often have little or no access to God’s Word. This was not entirely the case with Abimelech. He had a very vivid experience with God’s Word, “You are a dead man!” (Genesis 20:3). And it was in the wake of this that God identified Abraham as His spokesperson, with whom He had a special relationship (Genesis 20:7).

It’s been a few years now. Isaac has been born and now weaned, and Abimelech has had opportunity to observe that “God is with you in all that you do” (Genesis 21:22). What had Abimelech seen? Well, perhaps he had seen God’s material blessing upon Abraham. But he has also certainly seen that Abraham fears God in such a way that he keeps all of his solemn promises (Genesis 21:23).

This, of course, is a bit of a change from Abimelech’s earlier experience of Abraham’s character—when Abraham’s lie had just about led them all into sin against God. But, there has been more time to observe, and this is the conclusion that he has drawn. “God is with you in all that you do.”

This brings up an important question about how you see your life: when it comes down to not only your earthly wellbeing, but also your spiritual being, is your first great hope that God will be with you in all that you do? And then, when He does grant you to grow in faith and hope and love that produces worship and obedience and service, is it your conclusion about yourself  that God is with you in all that you do? Because if that is not the dynamic of your own life, as considered in your own mind, how can you expect that to be true of unbelievers?

And we can see the fruit of such faith-founded godliness in Abraham’s interaction in this chapter. When he continues to use the disputed well, he wishes it to be known clearly that he is not going back on their covenant. Even at the cost of the sheep and oxen—including the seven ewe lambs—Abraham makes sure that his ownership of the well is clear.

Finally, when Abimelech and Phicol have gone in Genesis 21:32, we can see the place of faith from which comes Abraham’s willingness to deal with such integrity. He plants a long-lasting memorial tree in confidence in God’s Word to him, and offers worship to the everlasting God (Genesis 21:33). His integrity with others has sprung from this faith in the Lord. Is it so with you?
What unbelievers observe your faith and character? What are they learning about God?
Suggested Songs: ARP15 “Within Your Tent” or TPH475 “Who Trusts in God, a Strong Abode”

Saturday, November 16, 2019

2019.11.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 21:22-34

Questions from the Scripture text: Who come and speak to Abraham (Genesis 21:22)? What have they noticed? What do they ask him to do in Genesis 21:23? How does Abraham answer at first (Genesis 21:24)? But what does Abraham want cleared up first (Genesis 21:25)? How does Abimelech answer (Genesis 21:26)? What does Abraham give to Abimelech as a sign of covenanting (Genesis 21:27)? From these, what does Abraham set apart (Genesis 21:28)? What does Abimelech ask (Genesis 21:29)? To what does Abraham say that the seven ewe lambs are a witness (Genesis 21:30)? What does he call the place (Genesis 21:31)? What had they done when all was said and done (Genesis 21:32)? Where do Abimelech and Phicol go? What does Abraham plant there (Genesis 21:33)? Then what does he do? Where does he stay and for how long (Genesis 21:34)?
Apparently, Abimelech’s last encounter with Abraham has left quite the impression upon him. Perhaps, it was not so much God appearing to him and announcing, “you are a dead man” as it was the effect for him and the people of Gerar, when Abraham prayed for them.

His opening line certainly accentuates this positive, “God is with you in all that you do.” Even those who want nothing to do with the God who blesses us yet desire to receive from the blessing of our God!

There’s just one problem with Abimelech’s request: he wants Abraham to deal with him according to the khessed that he has shown Abraham, but his men have actually taken by violence (indicated in the word “seized” in Genesis 21:25) a well that Abraham had dug (Genesis 21:30).

It is as if Abraham is saying, “No, what you need me to do is not to treat you according to your khessed to me, but according to God’s khessed to me.”

And it is important that Abraham proceeds to go the extra mile to be gracious. Abimelech had previously given Abraham “sheep and cattle and slaves” as a testimony that Sarah was rightfully Abraham’s. Now, even though the well is rightfully Abraham’s, it is Abraham who gives to Abimelech the sheep and cattle (he leaves off the slaves).

In fact, the well of swearing “Beersheba,” is also the well of seven “Beersheba” (the words for swearing and seven have the same root characters in Hebrew)—a reference to seven ewe lambs from the livestock that Abraham gives to Abimelech. These are perhaps the animals slaughtered in the “cutting” of the covenant at the beginning of Genesis 21:32.

Humanly speaking, even though Abraham keeps the well where he is (Abimelech has no need of it, since he is returning to Gerar), he is the generous benefactor in this covenant. The lesser (Abimelech) is being blessed by the greater (Abraham).

But, Abraham recognizes that the true Benefactor of all is “Yahweh, the Everlasting God.” That day, he plants a tree that will outlast all of them—a reminder that it is God who provides the well, and the water of it, and the sheep, and the cattle, and the seven ewe lambs, and the great Lamb who will atone for all of the sin of all who believe in Him! He is concerned not only to make that testimony to his own generation, but to leave behind that testimony about God for the generations that are yet to come.

When you deal with others, do they know you to be trusting a God who is all powerful, and perfectly righteous? Are you careful to be generous with them, and do you stir up faith in Him by worship? Do you consider not only the testimony that you are making to your current generation, but what you are leaving behind unto other generations?
What opportunities do you have in your life right now to be generous to others?
Suggested songs: ARP78B “O Come, My People” or TPH438 “I Love to Tell the Story”

Friday, November 15, 2019

2019.11.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 20:26-31

Questions from the Scripture text: For how many days had Christ been resurrected in John 20:26? Who was with the disciples this time? What was the condition of the doors? What does Jesus say to them, when He appears? To whom does He speak in John 20:27? What does He invite him to do with his hand? What does He command him to do with his heart? How does Thomas respond in John 20:28? What does Jesus identify as the instrumental cause of Thomas believing (John 20:29)? Whom does Jesus say are blessed? What else had Jesus done (John 20:30)? Why are the specific signs selected to be included in this gospel? (John 20:31)? What will be the result of their believing? 
It’s another Lord’s Day (the 8th day-seven days after the first), and another locked door, behind which there is another gathering of the disciples. The risen Lord Jesus teleports in, or walks through the wall, or whatever it is that His glorified body is able to do. And again, He greets them with that wonderful announcement, “Peace to you!”

We assume that the reason the door is still shut is for fear of the Jews (cf. John 20:19), but truly, what is there to fear if Christ, by His blood, has made peace with God for you?!

This time, Thomas is there. And Thomas is not at peace yet. He’s demanded more evidence. So, Jesus immediately turns to Thomas and invites him to do exactly what he has demanded. It’s at this point that Thomas realizes how wrong he was to make the demand, and offers worship instead, “my Lord, and my God!”

This is exactly what we are to believe about Christ. That the One who died and rose again is God Himself, who took on flesh in order to do so for us. Jesus says that Thomas came to this conclusion by encountering the risen Lord with his eyes. But, Christ also tells about others who overcome their demands, and humble themselves to worship Him as believers, without encountering Him through their eyes. “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

It’s at this point that the evangelist tells us why the Holy Spirit has carried him along to put this book of the Bible together just as he has done. These specific signs were selected and recorded, because it is through these Words of Jesus that we are to come to believe that He is the Christ (the perfect and ultimate human Prophet, Priest, and King), the Son of God (who is God from all eternity before He adds this humanity to Himself).

God intends to give us life, and His Word is the means by which He brings us to faith in Christ—in Whom alone there is life, and life to the full.

So, as you read these things about Christ, are you reading about the One whom you know to be your life? And what are you believing about Him?
What should you be asking God to do for you, as you read His Word?
Suggested songs: ARP19B “The Lord’s Most Perfect Law” or TPH170 “God, in the Gospel of His Son”

Thursday, November 14, 2019

2019.11.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 4:1-7

Questions from the Scripture text: From what does the heir not differ, as long as he is a child (Galatians 4:1)? Under whose authority must he continue (Galatians 4:2)? What does Galatians 4:3 call the outward ceremonies of the Mosaic code? What does he say that his people (“we”) were, as long as they were under this code? What does Galatians 4:4 call the time that the Father had appointed (cf. verse 2)? Whom did God send forth? Of whom was the Son born? Under what did this place Him? Why did the Son have to be born under the law (Galatians 4:5)? Into what age did this bring the church? Whom has God sent forth in this age (Galatians 4:6)? Into where did God send Him? What does He do there? What is the status of someone who has the Spirit in this way (Galatians 4:7)? And if this is his status, what has he become through Christ? 
In next week’s epistle reading, the apostle is urging the Galatians not to go into slavery on account of the false teaching of the Judaizers. Paul himself is a Jew, and identifies with the Jewish nation. But, he does not have romantic notions about the specialness of the Mosaic system.

In this passage, the apostle presents the Mosaic system as a basic (elements) structure set up in earthly/outward (of the world) things, that God set up for a specific use during a specific time. During that time, Paul says, the Jews were receiving the “slave” treatment. This was not so bad a thing, if you had a perfect Master—better to be a slave in God’s household than a son in any other one!

But, the point was not to keep them slaves, but to prepare them to cry out “Abba,” once the adoption in Christ had gone through, and the Spirit had entered their hearts.

Yes, God had appointed the law, but He’s now given something so much better than the law. Look at the “sent forth” statements of Galatians 4:4 and Galatians 4:6. First, God sent forth His Son. To be One of us, under the law. God sent forth His Son to be One of us!! Then, God sent forth His Spirit. To be in our hearts and cry out from within our hearts. God sent forth His Son’s Spirit into our hearts!!

Yes, Old Testament believers had to be made alive by the Spirit to be saved by believing in Jesus prospectively, looking forward to His coming. But they did not have the experiential knowledge of being united to God the Son, or being indwelt by His Spirit who trains our hearts to cry, “Abba.”

So, when the false teachers were presenting the Galatians with the idea of having their identity wrapped up in keeping the ceremonies that had looked forward to Christ, what they were really doing was distracting them from the far superior realities that had been brought in by Christ Himself. To use the language of this passage: a return to a ceremonial-style church is a choice to live like a slave, even after you’ve come into your inheritance.

Why would anyone do that? There is no doubt that they do. Even where men are not returning to God’s own traditions from the Mosaic law, they are often amassing their own earthly traditions that make up the essence of their Christianity. The fact of the matter is that union with Christ and the indwelling of His Spirit are things that are only experienced by living faith that must be given and sustained supernaturally by God. Externals, being the elementary principles that they are, have a much broader appeal and are more under our control to maintain. There is no real waiting upon God necessary in them, and they allow us to make ourselves feel and look like things are well with us.

But they’re slavery. Far better to wait upon God Himself to give us the blessed experience of union with Christ and the work of His indwelling Spirit—employing His means alone, and waiting upon Him for when and to what extent we will enjoy their effectiveness. Let us no longer be slaves but sons—heirs of God through Christ!
What are some manmade traditions that have arisen in the churches? By what means has God commanded us instead to enjoy the realities of adoption in Christ?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH257 “Children of the Heavenly Father”