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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”

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

2019.11.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ruth 1:14-17

Questions from the Scripture text: What did the women do at the beginning of Ruth 1:14? What did Orpah do? What did Ruth do? To whom does Naomi tell Ruth that Orpah has returned (Ruth 1:15)? What does Naomi tell Ruth to do? What does Ruth tell Naomi not to do (Ruth 1:16)? Where does Ruth say that she will go? Where does Ruth say that she will lodge? Whom does Ruth say will be her people? Whom does Ruth say will be her God? Where does Ruth say she will die (Ruth 1:17)? What else does she say will be done to her there? Upon Whom does she call to enforce this promise? What does she insist will be the only thing that can separate them? 
Perhaps the most amazing part of Ruth’s famous declaration is at the end of Ruth 1:17, “Yahweh do so to me, and more also, if (even!) death parts you and me.”

There are many parts to what Ruth says. Certainly, she is rejecting the “Orpah option” that Naomi urged her to take. “Do not set upon me to forsake you,” Ruth responds in Ruth 1:16. Orpah had shown respect and affection to Naomi, but it was too much for her to give up her people and her gods.

For Ruth, however, everything is under the control of the one true God—even death, and the enforcing of oath promises.

So, yes, she is promising to share Naomi’s presence (wherever she goes), and Naomi’s plight (wherever she may end up spending a night), and her people (not just generally, but specifically—whatever indigent class she ends up in).

But, there’s much more than that. For Ruth, there’s God, and there’s eternity. Remember that their ages have been a big deal so far in this passage. Surely, the expectation is that Naomi will die first. And what will Ruth do then? She will continue trusting in the God whose blessing goes beyond death. She will rest in a grave alongside Naomi, who trusts in this God.

Not even death will separate them (note that the “anything but” is in italics in your English translation; the Hebrew reads, “So let Yahweh do to me, and so let Him do again, if death separates between me and between you”).

For the one who trusts that death is not the end—that for believers in Yahweh, the grave is a resting place until the resurrection—sticking to the Lord with His people is worth every possible earthly loss or hardship.

Ruth has come to believe that Yahweh hears what she says and carries out justice on earth. This Yahweh has appointed her to be a daughter unto Naomi, and the fifth commandment requires her to stick to her. This Yahweh has promised that a Seed of the woman will crush the serpent’s head, and death will not win.

If Jesus has taken away her condemnation, then even death can’t cause her separation from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. Or from others who have this same faith. Do you believe this?
What hardship might you have to suffer to stick to Christ and His people? Why is it worth it?
Suggested Songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge” or TPH405 “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord”

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

2019.11.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 10:11-25

Questions from the Scripture text: What kind of sacrifices does every priest repeatedly offer (Hebrews 10:11)? What can they never do? How many sacrifices did this one offer (Hebrews 10:12)? For how long is it good? Where did He sit down? What is He waiting for (Hebrews 10:13)? What has He done forever to those who are being sanctified (Hebrews 10:14)? Who witnesses to us (Hebrews 10:15)? What did He say the Lord would make with us (Hebrews 10:16)? What would He put on our hearts? What would He write on our minds? What would He not remember anymore (Hebrews 10:17)? What does our forgiveness mean will no longer happen (Hebrews 10:18)? Where do we have boldness to enter (Hebrews 10:19)? By what do we have this boldness? What kind of way has Jesus consecrated for us to enter (Hebrews 10:20a)? What is the way through the veil (verse 20b)? What do we have over the house of God (Hebrews 10:21)? With what kind of heart may we draw near (Hebrews 10:22a)? From what were our hearts sprinkled, to be prepared for this (verse 22b)? What also was washed to show this reality (verse 22c)? What should we do with the confession of our hope (Hebrews 10:23)? Without what should we hold fast? Why should we hold fast without wavering (end of verse 23)? Whom should we consider (Hebrews 10:24)? In order to stir up what? What must we not forsake (Hebrews 10:25)? As we see the Day approaching how much should we exhort one another?  
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, Confession of Sin, and Assurance of Pardon come from Hebrews 10:11-25. This passage connects Jesus’s work on earth to our worshiping in heaven.

How is it that we can enter heaven by faith, week by week, in the Lord’s Day assemblies, like we read about at the end of chapter 12? Because we can enter that true Holy of Holies through the blood of our High Priest who has passed through the heavens ( Hebrews 10:19).  Hebrews 10:20 calls this the “new and living way through the veil.”

On the one hand, this ought to make us treasure Christ’s work on earth. Those old sacrifices could never take away sins, no matter how much they were repeated. But, Christ’s one sacrifice has done what none of them could do!

On the other hand, this ought to make us treasure our worship in heaven. Considering what it is that Christ has secured for us, and the cost at which He has secured it, how could we allow ourselves to miss those assemblies of the church in which we enter heaven together? It should be a strong warning to us that some were already doing so ( Hebrews 10:25)!

But there is a day approaching of that final entry into heaven, and those who are willing to miss out on the assemblies of the church from earth expose the fact that their hearts do not really value that coming entering of the church into glory.

So, let us value the finished work of Christ, and rightly devote ourselves to that Sabbath-keeping (sabbatismos, Hebrews 4:9), by which He has appointed for us to finally and fully enter His rest (cf. Hebrews 3:7-4:16).
What did Christ do, so that our weekly worship could enter glory? What does it take for you to miss that worship?
Suggested songs: ARP184 “Adoration and Submission” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome”

Monday, November 11, 2019

2019.11.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 21:8-21

Questions from the Scripture text: On what day did Abraham make a great feast in Genesis 21:8? What is Ishmael called in Genesis 21:9? What was he doing? What does Sarah tell Abraham to do in Genesis 21:10? What reason does she give? What did Abraham think of this (Genesis 21:11)? What does God tell Abraham not to do in Genesis 21:12? What does God tell him to do? What reason does God give at the end of verse 12—in whom will Abraham’s seed be called? Who is Abraham’s seed in Genesis 21:13? What will God do for him? When does Abraham arise in Genesis 21:14? What does he give Hagar? What does he do? What has happened in Genesis 21:15? What does she do? Where does she go in Genesis 21:16? Why? What does she do at the end of verse 16? Whose voice does God hear in Genesis 21:17? Who addresses Hagar? What does He say? What does He tell her to do (Genesis 21:18)? What does God do for her in Genesis 21:19? What was already there? What does she do? Who was with the lad (Genesis 21:20)? What effects does God’s presence produce for him? Where does he dwell (Genesis 21:21)? What does his mother do for him? From where does this wife come?
There’s more to maturity than advancing through physical stages. In Hebrews 5, the apostle uses the advancement from milk to solid food as a picture of theological and spiritual maturity. In our passage today, Isaac is moving on from milk to solid food, but we see that Ishmael is still immature in almost every way.

He’s a 16, maybe 17, year old who mocks a 3 year old at his weaning party. He’s incapable enough that if you’re going to send him away, you’d still have to send him away with mommy to take care of him. Between the physical conditions of him and his aging mother, she’s pretty sure that he would die first, so she puts him where she won’t have to see it happen.

But, by the very end of the passage—albeit now, sometime in the future—he grows, and is able not just to survive a few days in the wilderness but to dwell there, and to become an archer. A married man, who is becoming a nation.

What happened? “God was with the lad.” Why? When God commanded Abram, “walk before Me” (Genesis 17:1); and had given him circumcision for him and his children (Genesis 17:12); and had promised him Isaac, with whom He would have an everlasting covenant (Genesis 17:16Genesis 17:19); Abraham had made a special prayer: “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!” (Genesis 17:18)

At that time, God had said, “As for Ishmael, I have heard you.” (Genesis 17:20)

It’s difficult for us sometimes, to hold onto God’s promises concerning our children. Those children are not yet what we had hoped that they would be. And certainly our parenting is not what it ought to be. But God and His promises are always as they should be. And it is in Christ that those promises have their “yes” and the “amen.”

And that’s where God directs Abraham’s attention in Genesis 21:12-13. Perhaps Abraham thought that if Ishmael is put out now, there’s no way that he will ever come to faith, no way that he would ever mature. But we must see the “because he is your seed” of verse 13 in light of the “in Isaac your seed shall be called” of verse 12. The One who is in Isaac—Christ!—is the One through whom all the nations will be blessed. And God will be with Ishmael not because of Ishmael, or even so much because of Isaac and Abraham, as because the One who is in Isaac and Abraham, even Jesus Christ.

And it is for Christ’s sake that God takes note of Ishmael’s sin, and Ishmael’s trouble. It is for Christ’s sake that God has given Ishmael a concerned father and a praying mother. It is for Christ’s sake that God hears Ishmael’s cries, and is with Ishmael, and makes Ishmael strong and prosperous even in the wilderness. After all, it is in Christ that God became a child to save children!
What are some ways that you still need to mature? What gives you hope that you will?
Suggested Songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH257 “Children of the Heavenly Father”

Saturday, November 9, 2019

2019.11.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 21:8-21

Questions from the Scripture text: On what day did Abraham make a great feast in Genesis 21:8? What is Ishmael called in Genesis 21:9? What was he doing? What does Sarah tell Abraham to do in Genesis 21:10? What reason does she give? What did Abraham think of this (Genesis 21:11)? What does God tell Abraham not to do in Genesis 21:12? What does God tell him to do? What reason does God give at the end of verse 12—in whom will Abraham’s seed be called? Who is Abraham’s seed in Genesis 21:13? What will God do for him? When does Abraham arise in Genesis 21:14? What does he give Hagar? What does he do? What has happened in Genesis 21:15? What does she do? Where does she go in Genesis 21:16? Why? What does she do at the end of verse 16? Whose voice does God hear in Genesis 21:17? Who addresses Hagar? What does He say? What does He tell her to do (Genesis 21:18)? What does God do for her in Genesis 21:19? What was already there? What does she do? Who was with the lad (Genesis 21:20)? What effects does God’s presence produce for him? Where does he dwell (Genesis 21:21)? What does his mother do for him? From where does this wife come?
One of the things that we might easily miss in the drama of this chapter is that it is for Isaac’s sake—really, for the sake of Christ, that the Lord will do good to Ishmael.

It certainly isn’t for Ishmael’s sake. Ishmael is mocking the child of promise—the child on behalf of whom Sarah displeases Abraham, and God backs up Sarah (!!).

It certainly isn’t for Abraham’s sake. When God says “Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice,” we all look over at Hagar and think, “that hasn’t turned out so well before!” The Scripture draws this out of us by repeatedly referring to her as Abraham’s “maidservant” (“bondwoman” in the NKJV).

It isn’t even for Isaac’s sake. He’s probably three years old at this point, maybe five. He hasn’t done anything. But, when he was eight days old (cf. Genesis 21:4), he had received a sign that pointed forward to Christ.  When God says in Genesis 21:12, “in Isaac your seed shall be called,” he is referring to the fact that it is from Isaac that the Christ will come. For, it is not all those who are physically descended from Isaac who will be saved (consider Esau!), but rather Galatians 3:29 teaches us, “If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
What are you hoping in God to do? For whose sake do you hope He will do it?
Suggested songs: ARP146 “Praise the Lord” or TPH265 “In Christ Alone”

Friday, November 8, 2019

2019.11.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 20:19-25

Questions from the Scripture text: What day was this (John 20:19)? What time of day was it? What had the disciples done to the door? Why? What was Jesus able to do anyway? What does He say? What does He show them in John 20:20? How do the disciples now respond? Again, in John 20:21, how does Jesus greet them? What does He say that He is doing to them? What does He do to them in John 20:22? What does He say? What does He say, in John 20:23, is one result of His sending them as apostles and giving them the Spirit for this task? Who was not with them (John 20:24)? What did the other disciples say to him (John 20:25)? But what does he say to them?
In the next couple passages, we have first-day-Sabbath meetings between Jesus and the congregation (“assembled”—John 20:19, except in some critical text manuscripts). One wise pastor once commented with reference to Thomas in John 20:24, “see what you miss, and what attitudes you may develop, if you miss evening worship on the Lord’s Day?”

When we are assembled, Jesus reminds us of His power. He no longer physically walks through locked doors (John 20:19), but He does present Himself by means of His Word and sacraments to His people who may at that very moment be huddling for fear of their enemies on earth. He reminds us, thereby, that He is the King of heaven and earth. “When I am afraid, I will trust in You, in God whose Word I praise. In God I trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4).

When we are assembled, Jesus declares to us His peace. Twice He says this in this text, in John 20:19John 20:21. Not until they see His hands and side does John 20:20 tell us that “the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord”—so let us not be too hard on Thomas about his doubts. And this gladness is sandwiched between two declarations that He and His Father are for them and not against them—an alliance and identifying and help that have been secured by those wounds.

When we are assembled, we are gladdened by the glimpse that we receive of the Lord. Like the Greeks who came to Andrew, we are to come to corporate worship asking that we would see Jesus. What else is there that believers think they could desire out of corporate worship? This is the main thing: to be gladdened by the sight of the Lord.

When we are assembled, we are commissioned. No—not the same commission by which Christ is the apostle of God unto us (“As the Father has sent Me,” John 20:21, cf. Hebrews 3:1), and by which the disciples become the apostles of Christ unto the world (“I also send you,” John 20:21, cf. Matthew 28:18-20). Yet, He does leave us in the world as set apart unto God, as we heard Him praying for us in John 17:13-21.

Finally, when we have been assembled, let us be eager to tell others of the glory that we have seen and the goodness that we have enjoyed in our time together in assembly with the Lord. It may be that others will respond with resistance, as Thomas does when the disciples tell him in John 20:25. And it may also be that this is the first step in the Lord overcoming that resistance, as He does in the following passage!
What do you expect out of the Lord’s Day assemblies? How do you prepare for them?
Suggested songs: ARP100 “All Earth with Joy” or TPH153 “O Day of Rest and Gladness”

Thursday, November 7, 2019

2019.11.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 3:26-29

Questions from the Scripture text: What are all believers, according to Galatians 3:26? What effect has inward/spiritual baptism had upon them (Galatians 3:27)? What else have they done with Christ? What other realities are not preventing them from being equally adopted (Galatians 3:28)? What does union with Christ make them to be, according to Galatians 3:29? And, as Abraham’s spiritual offspring, what are they (verse 29)?
In Acts 19, when Paul meets believers who do not know about the Holy Spirit, he immediately asks them about their baptisms. How could they not know the name into which they were baptized—“Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”? How could they not know Him whom Jesus pours out, just as He has commanded that we do the same with the water?

In this portion of Galatians, the apostle refers them back to their baptisms as he connects the receiving of the Spirit (Galatians 3:2Galatians 3:5) with becoming children and heirs not only of Abraham (Galatians 3:7Galatians 3:29) but of God Himself (Galatians 3:9Galatians 3:26). Baptism, just like circumcision, takes a people (of all ages) who are children of earthly fathers and sets them apart as children of the Heavenly Father.

Ultimately, however, it is what Christ pours out that accomplishes this. The water that is poured on earth, baptizing someone into the church, shows forth that spiritual reality to which Galatians 3:27 refers: “baptized into Christ.”

Our water baptisms call upon us to hope only in belonging to our Lord Jesus Christ, so that it is always to Him that we look. So also, they remind us that when we believe in Jesus, it is always Him that God sees when He looks at us. As many of you as were baptized into Christ “have put on Christ” (i.e., “have been clothed with Christ.”) This is how Galatians 3:27-28 explain the sonship of Galatians 3:26.

You may be a Jew, but with regard to your status before God, what He responds to is that you have been clothed with Christ. You may be a Greek, but with regard to your status before God, what He responds to is that you have been clothed with Christ. You may be a slave, but with regard to your status before God, what He responds to is that you have been clothed with Christ. You may be free, but with regard to your status before God, what He responds to is that you have been clothed with Christ. You may be male, but with regard to your status before God, what He responds to is that you have been clothed with Christ. You may be female, but with regard to your status before God, what He responds to is that you have been clothed with Christ.

And it is that same Spirit, so clearly displayed in the pouring of baptism, who trains our hearts to say what that water baptism trains our tongues to say, “Abba, Father!” The name into which we are baptized is not merely God, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And when we experience the spiritual reality of the outward sign, the Spirit of adoption makes us cry out “Abba, Father,” bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God—and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ! (Romans 8:15-17).

This, ultimately, is what is at stake if we are tempted to think that we come to be children of God by how well we bear the family resemblance—it is an attack on Sonship being through faith in Jesus, by the work of the Spirit to clothe us in Him, so that we are not accepted as children for our worthiness but rather made worthy by being adopted as children. Not only is true salvation at stake, but even true knowledge of the Triune God who displays both this salvation and Himself in our baptisms!
What works are you tempted to think make you a worthy child of God? What (who!) really makes you a child of God? Where does worthiness come from? 
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH435 “Not What My Hands Have Done”

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

2019.11.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ruth 1:6-13

Questions from the Scripture text: With whom did Naomi arise in Ruth 1:6? Where was she going? Why? Where were they going in Ruth 1:7? What does she tell them to do in Ruth 1:8? Whose covenant love does she pray for them? To whom does she recognize them as having been faithfully loving? What does she pray Yahweh to grant them in Ruth 1:9? Where does she pray for them to find rest? What do they do at the end of verse 9? What do they say in Ruth 1:10? What does Naomi tell them to do in Ruth 1:11? What reasoning does she give in Ruth 1:11-13? What does she say has happened to her in Ruth 1:13? For whose sake has this grieved her very much? 
Sometimes faith has difficulty resting in the goodness of the Lord in whom it trusts. We often make much of Ruth’s determination to take Naomi’s God as her God, and we will consider this again in the next passage.

But notice that Naomi is also highly prizing having God as her God. If she were willing to accept Moab’s idol-gods, she could remain with her daughters-in-law and their families and have at least some connections to care for her. But, ultimately, Naomi knows that this is in God’s hand.

It is a statement of faith in God’s sovereign providence that she thought of the economic recovery in Ruth 1:6 as “Yahweh had visited His people.” It is a statement of faith in God’s sovereign providence that she says in Ruth 1:8, “Yahweh deal khessed-ly (according to steadfast love) with you” and in Ruth 1:9, “Yahweh grant that you may find rest.” It is even a statement of faith in God’s sovereign providence that she says that “the hand of Yahweh has gone out against me” in Ruth 1:13!

But, I wonder if your faith in the Lord sometimes produces mixed results due to a too-large view of the difficulties of your circumstances. The bulk of this passage is spent on Naomi’s statements. And the bulk of those statements is spent on the impossibility of husbands being found again in Naomi’s womb (Ruth 1:11-13).

Naomi has forgotten that the Lord always does His people the best good, even through the hardest promises. To be fair, at this point she is still saying that it grieves her for her daughters’ sakes that Yahweh has done this. But, shouldn’t she be pointing them to Him who always does good? What good is a husband without the one true God?

The book of Ruth is about the Lord’s turning Naomi’s bitterness sweet, as He weaves her into the line from which our Lord Jesus comes.  And as He does so, He demonstrates patience with real faith that is still really imperfect—faith like each of ours!
What situation has you discouraged? What can you be certain the Lord is doing in it?
Suggested Songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge” or TPH256 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

2019.11.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 6:35-51

Questions from the Scripture text: What did Jesus call Himself in John 6:35? What will those who come to Him never do? What will those who believe in Him never do? What does Jesus say the people who have seen Him still aren’t doing in John 6:36? Who will come to Jesus (John 6:37)? What will Jesus by no means do to the one who comes to Him? What had Jesus come down from heaven to do (John 6:38)? What does the Father will Jesus should do with all whom He has given to Him (John 6:39)? Whom does the Father will to have everlasting life and be raised up at the last day (John 6:40)? Why did the Jews complain about Him (John 6:41)? What did the people call Jesus and note about His parents (John 6:42)? What did Jesus tell them not to do in John 6:43? What has to happen for someone to come to Jesus (John 6:44)? What will Jesus do with them on the last day? What does John 6:45 say is written? From whom have those who come to Jesus heard and learned? Who has seen the Father (John 6:46)? Who has everlasting life (John 6:47)? What does Jesus say about Himself again in John 6:48? What does Jesus say will not happen to those who eat this bread (John 6:49-50)? What does Jesus call Himself in John 6:51? Who will live forever? What is the bread that He will give? For what will Jesus give His flesh? 
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin all come from John 6:35-51. This passage is one of the most important for understanding what Jesus means by eating His flesh and drinking His blood.

It is the one who comes to Him that will never hunger. It is the one who believes in Him that will never thirst. So, eating Jesus’s flesh and drinking Jesus’s blood is to come to Him and to believe in Him.

There’s just one difficulty: no one comes to Jesus unless the Father drags him to Jesus (John 6:44). The Father is the One who makes us to hear about Jesus and learn about Jesus (John 6:45).

But, as we consider the passage, this is more encouraging than discouraging. If we were to come to Jesus on our own, our coming to Him would never be dependable. But, with even our coming to Jesus being God’s own work, His saving us is absolutely sure.

All that the Father gives to Jesus WILL come to Jesus. The one who comes to Jesus will NOT be cast out. Jesus will lose not a single one of them.

Those who want to argue about Jesus’s ability to do what He says put themselves in the place of the murmuring people in our passage. Rather than struggle against what the Scripture says about Jesus, let us heed what Jesus tells us. Let us come to Him! Let us believe in Him! And let us give Him all the glory for granting to us to be able to come!
If only God can do something, what should we do, if we want Him to do it? 
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome”

Monday, November 4, 2019

2019.11.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 21:1-7

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom had Yahweh said that He would visit (Genesis 21:1a)? And for whom had Yahweh said that He would do something (verse 1b)? What had Sarah done in Genesis 21:2? What had set the time for this? What did Abraham call the name of his son in Genesis 21:3? Who had borne this son to him? Who had picked this name (cf. Genesis 17:9)? What did Abraham do to Isaac in Genesis 21:4? At what age (verse 4b)? Why do this at that age (verse 4c)? Whose age is highlighted in Genesis 21:5? How old was he? Who speaks in Genesis 21:6? Whom does she say has made her laugh? Whom else does she say that He is making to laugh? What question does she ask in Genesis 21:7? What answer to this question was already given in Genesis 21:1 and Genesis 21:2?
The verb translated “said” in Genesis 21:7 is not ordinarily used in telling history, like the ones in Genesis 21:1-2. It is almost always found in poetry, suggesting that Sarah is singing a joyous song of “Isaac” (literally, “laughter”!).

It also shares the consonants of the root for the word “circumcised” in Genesis 21:4, so that the play on words here is strong. The Lord’s promise—He is the One who “said” to Abraham that Sarah would have a child—had been set before Abraham in his own circumcision, and its fulfillment has been seen now in Isaac’s.

We are to find the Lord’s Word faithful. What He says, He will do. Exactly as He says, He will do. Exactly as He commands, we must do.

We are to find the Lord’s Word gladdening. The fact of the matter is that what God promises is to do infinite good to sinners, opposite what they deserve or are able, for the sake of His promise, and that Christ whom He has promised. As these promises come true, we are made to laugh with joy.

We are to find the Lord’s Word strengthened by His signs and strengthening to His signs. In connection with His covenant, God gave Abraham a physical sign that would direct him to look to God’s promise as his only hope for himself, and also as his only hope for his children. When God brings true part of what the sign shows, He also has that sign put upon Isaac—a sign for which Abraham now has an increased appreciation. Baptism and the Supper do this for us today. They remind us that it is for Christ’s sake, and by Christ’s life and power, that God has done us the good that we have received thus far. And that His future goodness to us rests securely upon that very same Christ.
What are past things Christ has done for you? What are future ones He has promised?
Suggested Songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH517 “I Know Whom I Have Believed”

Saturday, November 2, 2019

2019.11.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 21:1-7

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom had Yahweh said that He would visit (Genesis 21:1a)? And for whom had Yahweh said that He would do something (verse 1b)? What had Sarah done in Genesis 21:2? What had set the time for this? What did Abraham call the name of his son in Genesis 21:3? Who had borne this son to him? Who had picked this name (cf. Genesis 17:9)? What did Abraham do to Isaac in Genesis 21:4? At what age (verse 4b)? Why do this at that age (verse 4c)? Whose age is highlighted in Genesis 21:5? How old was he? Who speaks in Genesis 21:6? Whom does she say has made her laugh? Whom else does she say that He is making to laugh? What question does she ask in Genesis 21:7? What answer to this question was already given in Genesis 21:1 and Genesis 21:2
God puts the reliability of His Word front and center in this passage.

It is as He had said that Yahweh visit’s Sarah (Genesis 21:1a).

It is as He had spoken that Yahweh does for Sarah (verse 1b).

It is at the set time of which God had spoken that Sarah bears a son (Genesis 21:2).

It is as God has commanded him that Abraham circumcises Isaac (Genesis 21:4).

And, in fact, we know that Isaac is “Isaac” because God commanded them to give him this name in Genesis 17:9.

And just in case we did not see that this was a central idea of the passage before us, the Holy Spirit actually puts the question to us on the lips of Sarah in Genesis 21:7, “Who would have said?” It’s not even one of the more common words for speaking, but rather one that focuses on the uttering itself—the sound coming out of the mouth.

Who would have uttered it? Yahweh Himself uttered it, and so it had to be fulfilled!

How do we respond to the Word of God? Faith, obedience, and joy.

Yes, circumcision is an act, but it is an act specifically tied to God’s covenant and its promises. It is the covenant sign. When one receives it, he receives the mark of the certainty of everything that is involved in God’s covenant. Additionally, when he brings his son to receive it, he is humbling himself before God and acknowledging that this child belongs to God, and that his only hope is God’s grace, and that this hope is an absolutely certain hope! We respond to God’s Word with faith.

But we also respond with obedience. Circumcising his son was a command. Naming him Isaac was a command. True obedience springs always from faith—obeying the commands of God because they are God’s commands. But true faith also always produces obedience. We must never deceive ourselves that we believe if we are not obeying; and we must never deceive ourselves that we are truly obeying, if that obedience is not springing from faith.

Finally, however, it is also of the essence of faith to rejoice. Faith is not merely a mental agreement that what God has said is true. It is a convinced response to the reality that is presented in God’s truth. For Sarah, this reality was now in her arms. Finally, she is laughing that believing laughter that we had seen in her husband back in Genesis 17:17! But it’s not just Sarah who shares in this laughter. We also are to laugh here in Genesis 21:6. We are one of “all who hear.” The God who shows Himself here to be a keeper of His Word is a God who has made also unto us many great and precious promises—all of which find their yes and amen in our Lord Jesus Christ!
How have you responded with faith to God’s covenant signs? In what areas of your life do you frequently get opportunities to respond with obedience? When do you most feel and express the joy of knowing that all that God has promised to you is true?
Suggested songs: ARP29 “You Sons of the Gods” or TPH243 “How Firm a Foundation”

Friday, November 1, 2019

2019.11.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 20:10-18

Questions from the Scripture text: Where did the disciples go in John 20:10? What did Mary do (John 20:11a)? What did she do while she was weeping (verse 11b, cf. John 20:5)? Whom did she see in John 20:12? What did they ask her (John 20:13a)? What did she think had happened to the Lord’s body? What didn’t she know in verse 13? What does she do after saying this (John 20:14a)? Whom does she see? What doesn’t she know now in this verse? Who asks her about her weeping now (John 20:15)? What additional question does He add? Whom did she think Him to be? How does she answer His question? With what one word does He reply (John 20:16)? Now what does she suddenly know—how does she respond in turn? What does Jesus now tell her not to do (John 20:17)? What has He not yet done? Before He does so, for whom does He have a message? How does He decide to send them the message? What is the message?
The disciples go back to their homes literally to “their own”—wherever they have been staying in Jerusalem. Mary, however, is aching for the presence of her Lord. Weeping, she looks into the tomb as John had done. The angels, like the risen Lord after them, ask her why she is weeping. To both, she answers with her desire to know where the Lord’s body is.

It is interesting that she doesn’t recognize the Lord from His appearance, or even from His voice in His original question to her. She recognizes Him in His knowing her. Indeed, this has often been the experience of Christ’s people. We especially come to know Him as we recognize that He knows us and is personally interested in and involved in our lives.

Apparently, Mary is so overjoyed at having found the Lord that she clings (literally, “fastens onto”) to Him. Certainly, there was nothing wrong with touching Him (cf. John 20:27, Matthew 28:9). But, as our Lord redirects her from clinging to Him to a different task that He has for her, we can understand His meaning. He has other things for her to do right now, before He ascends, because He still must meet with His apostles and prepare them.

Jesus, here, mentions His ascension twice. As we have seen over the last several chapters, He has been telling His disciples that His going to the Father is necessary so that He may pour out His Spirit upon them for their work. Our Lord knows us, and has fellowship with us, but He insists that in our fellowship with Him we do not hinder ourselves from serving Him.

And what a fellowship it is! He has brought us into His Sonship. His Father is our Father. Even in His resurrection, He has taken on our humanity. Our God is His God. Our fellowship is not in clinging to Him, but in that glorious eternal union with Himself that He has given us, and in which we are to serve Him until our work here is done.
How do you enjoy your fellowship with Jesus? How are you serving Him?
Suggested songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken” or TPH358 “Sing, Choirs of New Jerusalem”

Thursday, October 31, 2019

2019.10.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 3:23-26

Questions from the Scripture text: Before faith (here meaning “the One believed in”) came, what kept the believers under guard (Galatians 3:23)? For what were the believers being kept? What is the law called in Galatians 3:24? To Whom was it making sure to bring us? How must one be justified, who comes to Him? Now that the One believed in has come, what are believers no longer under (Galatians 3:25)? What are the people in Galatians 3:26 called? How did they come into this status?
Last week, in Galatians 3:19-22, we learned that the law (the Mosaic administration) was necessary because of  transgressions, but that it could not deliver us from those transgressions. That’s what it couldn’t do. So what’s the one thing that it did do? We learn in Galatians 3:23, the Mosaic administration “kept us under guard” until the time that “the faith” (the one in Whom we believe—Jesus!) would “afterward be revealed.”

The word translated “tutor” here helps us understand the role that the Mosaic covenant played in the history of the covenant of grace. The “tutor” was a teacher and guardian, assigned to an heir, to teach and prepare him for the day that he would come into his inheritance. He was already guaranteed that inheritance, of course. But, he was given a tutor for his own help, so that he might learn more about who he is, what his inheritance is, and how to conduct himself once he had come into it.

The Mosaic administration did all these things. It kept believers mindful of their sin (reminding them who they are), but also held before them the reality of the covenant of grace and God’s determination to set apart to Himself a people to whom He would be committed (also reminding them who they are!). The Mosaic administration also described for them what Christ’s perfect obedience would look like (especially by the moral law) and what Christ’s sacrifice would look like (especially by the ceremonial law). Finally, the Mosaic administration presented obedience not in the context of “how to get saved” but rather as instructions for “how the saved behave” (cf. Exodus 20:2).

With the “tutor’s” help in pointing forward to Jesus, being made right with God has always been by believing—even before the believed-in-one (“the faith” in Galatians 3:23Galatians 3:25) came. But, now that Jesus is here, there is no reason to continue the Mosaic administration. Christ’s moral law, of course, remains the same. It has never been how we were made right with God or qualified to inherit. And, now, it doesn’t even have that role of pointing us forward to Jesus. He Himself has come, and He has given us better things that point back to His finished work on earth and point us up to Him Himself in glory.

What this passage is warning against is coming to the Old Testament in a way that forgets that Jesus has come. It’s His book, and we must read it as those who have Him as our righteousness, and Him as our blessing, and are employing His book to whatever extent it helps us to know Him and serve Him better—and never to supplement what Christ has done. What did the Mosaic administration teach in its time? The same thing that the New Testament teaches us now: trust only in Jesus!
What do you do, that you are tempted to think improves your standing with God?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH435 “Not What My Hands Have Done”

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

2019.10.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ruth 1:1-5

Questions from the Scripture text: In what days does this take place (Ruth 1:1)? What happened in the land? From what tribe does the man go out? Where does he go to dwell? Whom does he take with him? What was the man’s name (Ruth 1:2)? What was his wife’s name? What were his sons’ names? What was another name for Bethlehem (cf. Genesis 35:19)? What is repeated for a second time at the end of verse 2? What happens to Elimelech in Ruth 1:3? What happens to Naomi? To whom else does this happen? From among whom do Mahlon and Chilion take wives (Ruth 1:4)? What were the wives’ names? How long did they dwell there? What happens to the sons in Ruth 1:5? By whom now has she been “left”?
Naomi’s name means “pleasant,” but the opening verses of Ruth present to us a bitterness (“Mara”) upon which much grace must be poured before she is “Naomi” again.

Political bitterness. Judges 21:25 tells us that these were the days when “there was no king in Israel,” and everyone did what was right in his own eyes. This was a time of division among a people, who ought to have been an example to the world of covenant unity.

Spiritual bitterness. “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” isn’t just disunity from one another. It’s rebellion against God, who was their King, and by whose law ought to have determined “what was right” rather than their eyes. Ironically, Elimelech’s name means “My God is King.”

Economic bitterness. There was a famine in the land. This one is related to the spiritual bitterness, because the fruitfulness of the land was a direct function of covenantal blessing and curse (Cf. many passages such as Deuteronomy 11:13-17).

Social bitterness. Naomi ended up with her husband in the land of Moab—arch enemies of Israel (cf. Judges 3:12-30) and of the Lord (cf. Numbers 21:29 and Numbers 25:1-3). Not only that, but her husband dies. Then, her sons marry Moabite women. Then her sons die. In Ruth 1:3, she and her two sons “were left.” The same verb concludes Ruth 1:5. The passage drives the message home: Naomi is being left by all that she holds dear.

What will the Lord bring out of bitterness? That’s the question that these five verses set up for the rest of the book to answer. For believers, whose lives will have much in them that is bitter, we will rejoice to know the answer!
What bitter circumstances do you have? What was the greatest bitterness ever experienced? What did God bring out of that? What do you already know must come out of every situation?
Suggested Songs: ARP30 “O Lord, I Will Exalt You” or TPH256 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

2019.10.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 7:37-53

Questions from the Scripture text:: What day of the feast is this (John 7:37)? Who stands and cries out? Whom does Jesus invite to come to Him? To do what? About whom does Jesus talk in John 7:38? What will happen to that person? About whom was Jesus speaking (John 7:39)? What were people saying about Him in John 7:40-42? What were the people divided over (John 7:43-44)? What did the officers from John 7:32 do in John 7:45? What do the Pharisees ask them? What do the officers answer in John 7:46? What do the Pharisees ask them in John 7:47? What do they ask in John 7:48? What do they say about the entire feast-keeping crowd in John 7:49? Who speaks up in John 7:50? What does he ask in John 7:51? How do they answer him (John 7:52)? What do they give as the reason for not believing in Him? Where does everyone go in John 7:53
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin all come from John 7:37-53. Here, Jesus announces Himself as the water in the wilderness. The Feast of Tabernacles was all about remembering the wilderness period; and a big part of the wilderness period was the miracle of water from the rock when the Israelites thought they would die of thirst.

Now Jesus identifies Himself as that Rock. He not only promises to quench our thirst but to fill us with so much life that it bursts forth from our hearts! Apart from Christ, out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies (Matthew 15:19). But the Holy Spirit comes along and changes our hearts by filling us with the life of Christ!

We have to choose. Are we going to recognize Jesus as the Prophet greater than Moses (John 7:40, cf. Deuteronomy 18:15ff)? Are we going to recognize that His words are Divine words (John 7:46)? Are we going to listen to what He says and respond to what He does (John 7:51)?

May God save us from unbelief! And, we see in John 7:48-49 one of the main things from which we need saving: self-righteousness. One of the things that God used to enable many in the crowd to believe in Jesus was their thirst. They knew they needed a Savior. They were thirsty. But the Pharisees thought that they were better than the accursed crowd (verses 48-49). If we believe that we are better than others, we must admit instead that we are thirsty and need life from Christ.
What time in your life can you remember, when you felt more sharply your need of Jesus? How does remembering that time help you trust in Him? 
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH459 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

Monday, October 28, 2019

2019.10.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 20

Questions from the Scripture text: Where does Abraham go in Genesis 20:1? What does he say about his wife (Genesis 20:2)? Who takes her? Whom does God visit in a dream in Genesis 20:3? What does He say to him? What does Abimelech ask him in Genesis 20:4? What do we learn that Sarah has done in Genesis 20:5? What claim does Abimelech make about himself? Who agrees with this claim (Genesis 20:6)? What has God done for Abimelech? What does God command Abimelech to do in Genesis 20:7? What does God call Abraham? What does Abimelech need Abraham to do for him? If Abimelech does not return Sarah, what will happen to whom? When does Abimelech rise (Genesis 20:8)? Whom does he tell about this? What is their response? Whom does Abimelech call in Genesis 20:9? In what manner does he speak to him (Genesis 20:9-10)? What specific question does he ask? What is Abraham’s (ironic) answer in Genesis 20:11? What excuse does he give in Genesis 20:12? Whom does he blame in Genesis 20:13a? How does he take some of the blame off of Sarah in verse 13b? In addition to returning Sarah, what else does Abimelech give to Abraham (Genesis 20:14)? What invitation does he make in Genesis 20:15? What value does Abimelech assign to what he has given Abraham to restore Sarah’s honor and set her right (Genesis 20:16)? What does Abraham do in Genesis 20:17? What does God do? What had God done (Genesis 20:18)? What does the Scripture call Sarah in verse 18?
Who’s the real king? That’s the question in Genesis 20. Is it Abimelech? The Philistine ruler of Gerar, whose name literally means “my daddy is king”? Or is it Abraham, who in this passage is jumping to conclusions not only about what others are like, but also about how he can be kept safe?

The answer, of course, is that Yahweh is King. He is the One who knows what is going on in Abimelech’s heart (Genesis 20:6), and it is by His grace that the sin of Abimelech’s heart was restrained in the first place! He is the One who has put a baby in Sarah’s womb. He is the One who has closed up the wombs of the Philistines (Genesis 20:18). In other words, Abraham’s fears were completely unfounded, and Abraham’s actions were completely unjustified.

In such a situation, we might expect a righteous King to be punishing Abimelech (who certainly is in danger! ...  Genesis 20:3) and Abraham, who hasn’t learned his lesson from the Pharaoh incident. Instead, God is restraining the sin of Abimelech, and rebuking Abraham through Abimelech, and keeping Sarah safe when her husband didn’t, and blessing Abraham and Sarah with great earthly possessions (Genesis 20:14-15) and a vital spiritual lesson.

But, most of all, the Lord is being gracious by keeping His plan to bring Christ into the world exactly on track. Before time, He determined to be gracious in Christ—to accomplish His redemption in the life and death of Christ, and to apply Christ and His redemption to believers by His Spirit. The Lord isn’t just being gracious to them in this passage. If you believe in Jesus, He is being gracious to you! And He still is.
How have you stumbled recently? How/why has the Lord still been gracious to you?
Suggested Songs: ARP51B “From My Sins” or TPH517 “I Know Whom I Have Believed”

Saturday, October 26, 2019

2019.10.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 20

Questions from the Scripture text: Where does Abraham go in Genesis 20:1? What does he say about his wife (Genesis 20:2)? Who takes her? Whom does God visit in a dream in Genesis 20:3? What does He say to him? What does Abimelech ask him in Genesis 20:4? What do we learn that Sarah has done in Genesis 20:5? What claim does Abimelech make about himself? Who agrees with this claim (Genesis 20:6)? What has God done for Abimelech? What does God command Abimelech to do in Genesis 20:7? What does God call Abraham? What does Abimelech need Abraham to do for him? If Abimelech does not return Sarah, what will happen to whom? When does Abimelech rise (Genesis 20:8)? Whom does he tell about this? What is their response? Whom does Abimelech call in Genesis 20:9? In what manner does he speak to him (Genesis 20:9-10)? What specific question does he ask? What is Abraham’s (ironic) answer in Genesis 20:11? What excuse does he give in Genesis 20:12? Whom does he blame in Genesis 20:13a? How does he take some of the blame off of Sarah in verse 13b? In addition to returning Sarah, what else does Abimelech give to Abraham (Genesis 20:14)? What invitation does he make in Genesis 20:15? What value does Abimelech assign to what he has given Abraham to restore Sarah’s honor and set her right (Genesis 20:16)? What does Abraham do in Genesis 20:17? What does God do? What had God done (Genesis 20:18)? What does the Scripture call Sarah in Genesis 20:18?
Back in chapter 12, it must have been jarring to the Israelites who first received the book of Genesis to hear Pharaoh (the wicked Egyptian!) rebuking “good” father Abram. But now that we’re in chapter 20, and he’s a believer, and he’s grown in the faith, and his name is Abraham, he would do better in the same situation, right?

WRONG!

Here in chapter 20, it’s again jarring to hear Abimelech (the wicked Philistine!) rebuking God’s prophet (cf. Genesis 20:7) Abraham. Some readers think that perhaps the rebuke is not well-earned, and that Abraham has done nothing wrong. But the text itself emphasizes that Sarah is his wife (Genesis 20:2) despite what he said, and that she is his wife (Genesis 20:3), and that she is “the man’s wife” (Genesis 20:7), and that Abimelech restored his wife (Genesis 20:14)… and even concludes the account with “Sarah, Abraham’s wife” in Genesis 20:18.

Even Abraham’s sheepish explanation in Genesis 20:11-13 falls on its face. It is Abraham who did not fear God enough, and Abimelech whose fear of God (Genesis 20:3-5) features prominently in the passage and is confirmed even in Genesis 20:6. When Abimelech takes Abraham’s words at the end of Genesis 20:13 to refer to him as “your brother” in talking to Sarah in his public speech in Genesis 20:16, it settles accounts for her public name, but brings shame to Abraham’s weak excuse.

But the point of the passage isn’t so much Abraham’s continued failure. Believers who know ourselves are often shocked to find old habits of sin rearing their ugly heads once again. But, it isn’t great comfort merely to know that other saints have experienced this too. What is a great comfort is to observe God in this passage, relating by grace to His stumbling servant! He’s still defending Abraham’s interests (Genesis 20:3). He still considers him a prophet (Genesis 20:7). He still responds to his prayers as those of a righteous man (Genesis 20:7Genesis 20:17, cf. James 5:16).

It was not for the sake of Abraham’s obedience that the Lord was merciful to him, but for the sake of Christ’s obedience that became Abraham’s righteousness through faith (cf. Genesis 15:6). When we stumble into old patterns of sin, let us rejoice that our Redeemer is this same God of Abraham, and our righteousness is that same righteousness of Christ!
In what ways have you stumbled recently or in the past? What if you stumble again?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

Friday, October 25, 2019

2019.10.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 19:38-20:9

Questions from the Scripture text: What was Joseph of Arimathea (John 19:38)? Why was this a secret? What did he ask and receive from Pilate? Who else came in John 19:39? What did he bring? What did they do with Jesus’s body in John 19:40? Where was the garden in John 19:41? What was in it? Why did they lay Jesus there (John 19:42)? What day is it in John 20:1? Who goes to the tomb? When? What does she see there? Whom does she run to in John 20:2? What does she tell them? Where do they go in John 20:3? In what manner do they go (John 20:4)? Who gets there first? What does John see when he looks in, in John 20:5? What doesn’t he do? What does Peter do in John 20:6? What does he notice in John 20:7? What response does John have when he goes in and sees this too (John 20:8)? What had they not yet understood (John 20:9)? 
In John 19:38-42, we see the Holy Spirit emphasizing the historical truthfulness of Christ’s burial. This was important, because Jesus had prophesied that the Son of Man would be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights (cf. Matthew 12:40). Returning to the earth was part of Christ’s humiliation, as part of the penalty for Adam’s sin (cf. Genesis 3:19).

Even in facilitating Christ’s burial, we see the Lord using all sorts of imperfect people. Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the council (cf. Luke 23:30), and Niocdemus was a Pharisee on that council (cf. John 7:50), but they lacked courage—Joseph feared the Jews and it was by night that Nicodemus had come to Him in chapter 3. Mary Magdalene was about as low as you could get in society, the very opposite of those two men. Peter was slower (John 20:4), but John lacked boldness (John 20:5) and faith at first (John 20:8). They both had lacked understanding of the Scriptures (John 20:9) about the resurrection.

Here, as everywhere, Christ Himself is ultimately the only Hero. He had justified His people (cf. Romans 4:25). When the humiliated Christ of the grave became the exalted Christ of the resurrection, God made public display that His payment for sin had been accepted in full. He had been demonstrated to be the Son of God with power (cf. Romans 1:4). Just as Jesus had dismissed His Spirit by His own authority (cf. John 10:18), so by that authority as the Son of God, He had taken His life up again. He was being revealed as the One by Whom God would judge the world (cf. Acts 17:31). The great question for each descendant of the original Adam is whether we have responded to these resurrection-displayed facts about Jesus Christ!
What difference does it make to you that Christ’s payment has been accepted in full?
Suggested songs: ARP130 “Lord, from the Depths” or TPH22A “Sing, Choirs of New Jerusalem”

Thursday, October 24, 2019

2019.10.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 3:15-22

Questions from the Scripture text: In what manner does the apostle speak (Galatians 3:15)? What cannot be done to a covenant once it is confirmed? Even to what kind of covenant? To Whom were the promises made (Galatians 3:16)? What point does this verse make about the word “Seed” in Genesis 22:18 as an explanation of Genesis 12:3 (along with several other promises)? Since the word ‘Seed’ is singular, Whom does Galatians 3:16 say that the word must mean? What came 430 years later (Galatians 3:17)? What couldn’t this later thing do to the covenant? What couldn’t it do to the promise? What is not of the law in Galatians 3:18? What question does Galatians 3:19 ask? Because of what was the law added? Until when did the law promise forgiveness of transgressions? In what way did the law come (as opposed to the way in which the promise came)? How many parties are involved with a mediator (Galatians 3:20)? So, what has to have been already in place for the law to come through a mediator? What does the law not change or undo, even at the time of Moses (Galatians 3:21)? What could it not do? What could it do (Galatians 3:22a)? To whom, alone, would the promise come both before and after Jesus Christ came (verse 22b-c)?
By attaching a date (430 years later) to “the law” in this section, the Holy Spirit shows that by “the law,” He is speaking of the Mosaic covenant. The argument in Galatians 3:15-18 is that the Mosaic covenant could not have been given as a way of inheriting, because this would have been to alter the terms of the Abrahamic covenant—an impossibility. So, inheritance was by the promise before, and inheritance is by the promise during the Mosaic administration, and inheritance is by the promise now.

Why, then, was there even a Mosaic covenant? That’s the question of Galatians 3:19. The answer is that it was a gift for restraining sin until Christ (verse 19). It came with the great display of God’s holiness at Sinai (angels, the ten thousand holy ones of Deuteronomy 33:2), through a mediator as great as Moses. Why the Mediator? Not for God, but for the people (Galatians 3:20). This covenant was never meant to give righteousness (Galatians 3:21), but rather to make sure that for righteousness, the people of God would only always believe in Jesus Christ, who was to come.

What the Lord did for His people in the long-term, historical sense, He also does in individuals’ lives. Romans 3:19-26 teaches that the law stops up every mouth so that righteousness that is witnessed by the Law and the Prophets comes apart from the law—only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, whom God set forth as a propitiation.

Dear believer, your inheritance is not from how well you are doing as a Christian, but from the unchangeable, completely earned by Jesus, promise of God in Christ!
What good work have you been working on lately? What can’t it do for you? Who alone can do it?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH130A “Lord, from the Depths”

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

2019.10.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Judges 21

Read Judges 21
Questions from the Scripture text: What had the rest of Israel sworn (Judges 21:1)? Where do they go in Judges 21:2? What do they do? What do they cry out (Judges 21:3)? What do they do in Judges 21:4? What loophole do they try to use in Judges 21:5-8? Who end up being the answer (Judges 21:8b-9)? What penalty does Jabesh-Gilead pay for having failed to participate in the judgment upon Benjamin (Judges 21:10-11)? But who end up being spared from this judgment (Judges 21:12)? For what purpose were they spared (Judges 21:13-14)? What problem did they still have (Judges 21:15-16)? Why is lack of wives such a problem (Judges 21:17)? What obstacle is restated in Judges 21:18? What loophole do they now make use of in Judges 21:19-23? What explanation do they give in Judges 21:22? What are they finally able to do in Judges 21:24? With what comment does Judges 21:25 summarize what has happened here? Whose approval is never given of these methods in the text?
In a culture where we are accustomed to marrying primarily for ourselves, not considering marriage as a vital way of serving the Lord and the Lord’s people, there is much that is shocking to us in this chapter.

There is much here that is sinful—there is very little theological comment in the text, and definitely no approval from the Lord. In fact, the summary statement is, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” So the right way of interpreting is not for us to approve and imitate. THAT would make for a bizarre approach to courtship!

And yet, though their solution was cringeworthy, their concern was commendable.

They grieve over tragedy in the church (Judges 21:2). Do we grieve over the spiritual barrenness of the churches? Over children that learn to be worldly in the home and church, and depart the church into the world when they leave that home? Over those who leave churches that operate on a principle of what God wants to a church that gives them a bit more of what they want?

They are concerned to keep what they have sworn by Yahweh (Judges 21:7Judges 21:18). Of course, it is possible to vow to something that is positively evil, in which case making the vow was wicked, and keeping the vow would further be wicked. That does not appear to be the case here; but even if it were, the concern to keep their vow is commendable. In a place and time when believers think nothing of throwing away what they have promised before the face of God, it is sobering to think that, in some ways, the church is in a worse place than the people of God were in Judges 21. How easily do you break vows made before God?

They are concerned for the remaining Benjamites to have fruitful marriages (Judges 21:16-17). It has been a theme in the book of Judges that the wicked have failed to come out to war against the enemies of God and His people. But, from the slaughter of Jabesh Gilead, eligible brides’ lives are spared for the Benjamites who also deserved death and whose lives have been spared. Much of the tribe of Benjamin, from Judges 21 on, is made up of those who were under the sentence of death but spared! This factor, of each having spared from death for the other, would at minimum give the new couple a common starting point for their decidedly uncommon marriages. Now, the application would look very differently—modest apparel, carefulness in types of interaction, setting an example in how we talk about our spouses, etc.—but, the question is: how much are we putting into promoting one another’s marriages? What they ended up doing may not have been commendable, but their thought and effort puts many of us to shame.

Ultimately, this passage leaves us thankful that Jesus Christ is King in Israel, so that we would not be left to our own wisdom, desires, and rules. May we not only rest entirely upon who He is and what He has done, but also diligently employ His means in our lives, lest we be well-meaning but kingless fools and scoundrels.
In what areas of life/church have you been learning that the Lord has given instruction, where you had previously operated according to your own ideas?
Suggested Songs: ARP119W “Lord, Let My Cry” or TPH174 “The Ten Commandments”

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

2019.10.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 4:1-7

Questions from the Scripture: What have Paul and his companions received for their ministry (2 Corinthians 4:1)? What do they not lose? What does he call the things that they have renounced in 2 Corinthians 4:2? In what do they refuse to walk? How do they refuse to handle the word of God? Instead, what do they do with the truth? To what aspect, then, of every man, do they commend themselves? In whose sight? What may happen to their gospel (2 Corinthians 4:3a)? But to whom would it be veiled (verse 3b)? What does 2 Corinthians 4:4 call the devil? What has he done to those who are perishing? What do they not do? What does this veil keep them from seeing? Who is Christ, according to verse 4? What, then, do Paul and his companions not preach (2 Corinthians 4:5)? What do they preach? How do they consider themselves? Who does the work (2 Corinthians 4:6)? What else has He done about 4000 years prior? In whom else has He already done this spiritual counterpart to that work? Where does He shine? What light does He give? In whose face is the knowledge of this glory received? By what kind of vessel is this treasure conveyed (2 Corinthians 4:7)? What does this show?
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin all come from 2 Corinthians 4:1-7. Here, the apostle explains why his ministry is not generally impressive to all. One might have (wrongly) expected that the ministry of an apostle would be impressive to anyone.

Paul’s ultimate response is that God alone is the impressiveness of the work, and those who are not impressed with Him are not going to find anything else to be impressed with in his ministry (2 Corinthians 4:7). This doesn’t bother him, because his ministry is not his idea or his pride. It as an assignment of God by the mercy of God. It may seem to be going poorly, but if it is of God, then there is no reason to lose heart!

Ironically, the apostle refers to superficially impressive ministry as “the hidden things of shame.” There is a way of handling the Word of God that looks impressive on the outside, but what you cannot see is that it is man-derived and man-dependent. But the apostles are not concerned with commending themselves to men’s admiration. They are concerned with commending themselves to men’s consciences. Oh, that we would learn to see our life as an assignment from God and deal earnestly with others as those who will have to stand before Him!! How this might help us to stop living for their applause!

Will such a ministry have a hundred percent conversion rate? No and yes. In one sense, no. There are those who are perishing. And if the Lord has not atoned for them, and is not going to regenerate them, then what exactly are we supposed to be able to do about that? It is not just that they are unable to see God’s glory. It is also that they are not permitted. 2 Corinthians 4:4 says that God has set things up this way because He refuses to shine the light of the gospel upon them.

But in another sense, yes. Such a ministry will have a hundred percent conversion rate. For, the Lord is all powerful. He spoke light itself into existence. And He can speak spiritual light into existence in the hearts. And He does, because in the case of His elect, He is determined to give them the light of the knowledge of His glory in the face of Jesus Christ!
What kind of ministry should we look for in the church? Whom should we be looking to make it effective? With whom should we aim at being impressed? What aims and approaches are incompatible with this?
Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH271 “Blessed Jesus, At Your Word”

Monday, October 21, 2019

2019.10.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 19:30-38

Questions from the Scripture text: Where does Lot go, and with whom in Genesis 19:30? Whom have we recently heard about drinking so much wine that he lost his awareness, and great sin was committed by his children (cf. Genesis 9:20-28)? To whom does that happen now (Genesis 19:31-36)? What results from this in Genesis 19:37-38?
Lot is a cautionary tale who presents us with a dilemma—earthly blessings are real blessings, and so ought to be enjoyed, and are yet dangerous to our souls!  How should we go about enjoying them, without falling into worldliness or abusing them?  Psalm 1:1-2 gives us a good start.  We are careful not to let the world tell us about how to enjoy things; we delight first in God’s law, and meditate on it day and night.

And there is a very helpful passage in 1 Corinthians 7:29-35, that basically tells us that in light of the soon-coming eternity, we should hold the duties and pleasures and pains of this life with a very loose grip.  Do every task with your eye on eternity.  Enjoy every pleasure with your eye on eternity.  Mourn every grief with your eye on eternity.  Go ahead and enjoy your wife, and mourn, and rejoice, and buy, and sell—but give them the weight in your heart that they comparatively have to eternity… so in your heart, as you do them, it is as if you are not doing them at all!

Lot, who lived by sight, is an intentional foil for Abraham in this section.  God means for us to see in them two opposite ways of living.  Abraham, though not perfect, is living by faith—we see this in his better moments at the end of chapter 14 and beginning of 16… trusting in God as his hope, finding in God his delight.

Lot is just the opposite.  By failing to live as a true pilgrim in this world, by failing to hope in God alone and treasure God far above all earthly things, Lot has never found the 1 Corinthians 7 balance of having wives as if you have none, and mourning as if you aren’t mourning, and rejoicing as if you’re not rejoicing, and buying goods as if you’re not really possessing them, and dealing with the world as if you have no dealings with it.

We find Lot in Genesis 19:30, not living in and interacting with Zoar, while his heart is in heaven.  Rather, his prior worldliness has left him completely confused.  Lot’s not afraid of worldliness, like he should be; now, he’s afraid of the world itself.  His worldliness wasn’t just unbelievably foolish; its effects were irretrievably harmful.
Where have you been similar to Lot? How has Christ been different? How does that relate to you being right with God? How does it relate to your growth in godliness?
Suggested Songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH446 “Be Thou My Vision”