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Saturday, July 11, 2020

2020.07.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 29:31–35

Questions from the Scripture text: What did Yahweh see in Genesis 29:31? What did He do for Leah? For whom did He not do it? What did Leah do in Genesis 29:32? What does she call her son? Why? What does she hope will happen? What did Leah do in Genesis 29:33? What did she say about her bearing a second son? What did she call his name? What does Leah do in Genesis 29:34? What does she say about her third son? What does she call him? What does Leah do in Genesis 29:35? This time what does she say? And what happens? 
The passage begins with Yahweh seeing that Leah is unloved and concludes with Leah finally seeing Yahweh as her only hope for love.

From Israel’s perspective, God is finally starting to multiply His people. Abraham had one child that ended up being a covenant child in God’s church. Isaac had one child that ended up being a covenant child in God’s church. By the end of these five verses, instead of merely replacing one at a time, we have four. God is bringing about His great plan of redemption!

But the God whose plan works on the grand scale of all of history for all of humanity also notices and addresses His most unnoticed people and their most personal problems.

The shenanigans of the previous ten verses produced a polygamy that is crushing Leah’s heart. Our own hearts ache with her as the Holy Spirit takes us through her baby-name reasoning. “Now therefore, my husband will love me” (Genesis 29:32b). “Because Yahweh has heard that I am unloved” (Genesis 29:33a). “Now this time my husband will become attached to me” (Genesis 29:34a).

But while husbands and their affections may be a great blessing and comfort, it is a trap to look to them for that happiness and security that can only come from the Lord. It is not the sadness of giving up that we read in Genesis 29:35 but the new joy of holy resignation to commit her heart to the Lord. We will see that this is not a perfect and continual state of glad faith for her (what believer in this life ever has that?), but in comparison to the other names, what a glorious name is Judah.

Judah. Praise. She is no longer waiting for Yahweh’s plan to “work.” She’s just praising Yahweh. She no longer needs to be relieved of her affliction to be comforted that Yahweh sees her in the midst of it (Genesis 29:32b). She no longer needs to achieve her husband's love to be comforted that Yahweh hears her in the midst of it (Genesis 29:33a).

Her husband may not be attached to her (Genesis 29:34a), but you know who is? The living, seeing, hearing, womb-opening God! Jacob is not in the place of God (cf. Genesis 30:2); the One Who genuinely does love her is God!

Sometimes, it is only after years of marriage and hoping in a husband’s love, or years in some other difficulty, that the Lord’s attention-grabbing providence finally grips us with the wonderful truths that His Word teaches us. But He is always there, always loving, always seeing, always hearing.

And He is Almighty. He opens and closes wombs. And He does so in the process of bringing Christ into the world to save sinners. Not just sinners generally. But the believing sinner reading this devotional. In her personal pain that no one else seems to see or care about. Is this not a God who is worthy of your trust, security, contentment, and praise?!
What hidden pain do you have? Who sees it? What has He done about it in Christ? What more would you need in order to find contentment in Him and live for His praise?
Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH508 “Jesus, Priceless Treasure”

Friday, July 10, 2020

The Prayer of Faith That Saves the Sick (James 5:15–16a Prayer Devotional)

The "prayer of faith" is something that the prophet began the letter by talking about, in the context of the eternal hope that gladdens us in the midst of temporal trial. Now at the end of the letter, the prophet affirms that when the elders come and lead the sick believer in this prayer of faith, that prayer is always instrumental and ultimately successful in God's working to give this believer what Jesus has deserved for us.

2020.07.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 6:39–45

Questions from the Scripture text: What did Jesus speak to them (Luke 6:39)? About what hypothetical situation does He ask in His first two questions? What are their obvious answers? What is a disciple not above (Luke 6:40)? What will he be like? What is the guy looking at in Luke 6:41? Why is that a problem? What is he doing with the speck in Luke 6:42? Why is that a problem? What does he need to do first? Why? What does not bear bad fruit (Luke 6:43)? What doesn’t bear good fruit? How is a tree known (Luke 6:44)? From what does a good man bring forth good (Luke 6:45)? From what does an evil man bring forth evil? What does a man do out of the abundance of His heart?
In the preceding passages, the Lord Jesus has been teaching us to see with eyes of faith. To see genuine, eternal blessedness even in the midst of any trials that might be bringing it about (Luke 6:20-26). And to see true, heart-righteousness as the real evidence of having been forgiven and adopted as God’s children in the earth (Luke 6:27-38).

So, the Lord Jesus’s disciples were not to follow the Pharisees, with whom they would just fall into spiritual disaster (Luke 6:39) and end up just like them (Luke 6:40). But, we are also not to attempt to help one another unless we ourselves are repentantly and humbly following Christ (Luke 6:41). The fruit of this will be an active repentance in which we are mortifying our own sin; only when we are such followers of Christ are we useful to our brothers in helping them follow Christ too (Luke 6:42).

The reason for this is pretty simple. The Lord Jesus isn’t just producing different behaviors on the outside; He’s making an entirely different kind of person (tree, Luke 6:43-44). Though the fruit look ever-so-similar, the Lord Jesus only assesses it as “good” if it has grown out of one of those blessed ones who find Him Himself to be all of their blessedness (Luke 6:20-36).  This is the only kind of “good man” that there is, so if we want to be useful to our brothers, we need to be remade from the heart by the Lord Jesus Himself (Luke 6:45).

This means that there is not a competition between private piety and public action, but a might cooperation. If we think that we have private piety, but the overflow through our mouths is not building up our brethren in faith in Christ, then we are deceived about what was in the heart. If we think that we are building others up by what comes from our mouths, but we are not cultivating a heart of delighted faith and love and hope in Christ, then we are deceived about what is coming out of our mouths.

But, if we are genuinely clinging to Christ, then we will both be cultivating the heart and edifying the brethren. For, this is the kind of tree that He makes out of those whom He saves.
What heart cultivation is happening in your own private/family/public worship? Whom are you edifying?
Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH174 “The Ten Commandments”

Thursday, July 9, 2020

2020.07.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 3:20–21

Questions from the Scripture text: What is God able to do above (Ephesians 3:20)? How much above? According to what power? To Him be what (Ephesians 3:21)? In what? By Whom? Unto how many generations? For how long? 
God does according to what His unsearchable wisdom intends and thinks, and prayer reaches out for what God Himself has intended to do, rather than an attempt to change anything to what we would have God do for us.

So, apostolic prayer acknowledges its own limitations. It asks, as well as possible, according to Scripture, but it does not stop there. He is able to do what we ask. He is able to do what we ask or think. He is able to do all that we ask or think. He is able to do above all that we ask or think. He is able to do abundantly above all that we ask or think. He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. Here are those unsearchable riches (Ephesians 3:8) of God’s manifold wisdom (Ephesians 3:10)! Prayer, being made by the Spirit through union with Christ, reaches for that which takes its dimensions not from us and our thoughts, but from God Himself!

And behold how God has emboldened us to make such a request: He has already been demonstrating the power by which He will accomplish all that His wisdom has intended! This transformed Pharisee who hated Christ and the nations is now writing not to an individual but to a church that is made up not only of Jews but especially of reconciled believers from those once-alienated nations! Almighty power has accomplished redemption already in Christ. Almighty power is producing a church that will at last be perfectly glorious with the glory of God Himself, having been filled with the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19).

How can this happen? Because it is not only by the power of God that this is being accomplished but in the second Person of the Godhead that this occurs in the church: “by Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 3:21). That is to say that it is by grace. Union with Christ. Christ’s worthiness as our worthiness. Christ’s power as our power.

But it is not ultimately for the glory of the church that the apostle prays, for the church is not his ultimate and highest love. It is ultimately for the glory of God that a believer must pray, since it is God who must be the believer’s ultimate love.

The apostle prays not only for the saints, but for their God and their Savior. Love issues forth in a desire before God that love’s object would receive what is good and right. And when love's object is God, it prays for His glory. Thus, it is good to end every prayer, which itself is an act of love unto God, with a petition for His infinite and everlasting glory—even as our Lord Jesus modeled for us when instructing us in prayer. Let not just our prayers, but all of our worship, indeed all of our actions, and our very lives and beings, end in His praise!
What place do your prayer limitations have in your prayers? What place does praise have in your prayers?
Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song to the Lord” or TPH100B “All People That on Earth Do Dwell”

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

A Man (Not) After God's Own Heart (Family Worship lesson in 1Samuel 13)

Pastor teaching his family today's Hopewell @Home passage . In 1Samuel 13, we learn that a man after God's own heart is one whose thoughts, feelings, and choices are formed not by his perceptions but by God's Word. Christ is this Man on our behalf, and the King Who makes His subjects like Himself!