Current series on "How God Wants to Be Worshiped":


Current series in Galatians:

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019.12.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 15:1-6

Questions from the Scripture text: What came to Abram and when (Genesis 15:1)? What did He tell Abram NOT to do? What two things did He promise to be unto Abram? What reason does Abram give in Genesis 15:2 for this not being as good news to him as it could be? What does Abram say that God has not given him (Genesis 15:3)? What is said (again!) to come to Abram in Genesis 15:4? What does Yahweh say about Eliezer? What does He say about the one who will be Abram’s heir? Where does the Lord bring Abram in Genesis 15:5? Where does He tell Abram to look? What does He tell Abram to try to do? What does He say to Abram about his ability to number the stars? How does Abram respond to Yahweh in Genesis 15:6? What is accounted to Abram through this believing? 
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Song of Adoration come from Genesis 15:1-6 in order to sing God’s thoughts after Him with I Greet Thee Who My Sure Redeemer Art.

It seems almost blasphemous for Abram to ask God, “What can You give me?” Not only was God the One who had made the promise, but what He had promised was Himself.

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

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

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

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

And Abram believed God about that one (Genesis 15:6, cf. Romans 4, Galatians 3:6James 2:23). And he was made righteous before God, and received God Himself as his shield and reward.
When are you going to die? Do you have a shield that is stronger than death?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH282 “I Greet Thee Who My Sure Redeemer Art”

Monday, December 30, 2019

2019.12.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 24:18-28

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Rebekah say in Genesis 24:18? What does she do? What does she propose to do in Genesis 24:19? How many camels would this be? Until they have drunk how much? In what manner does she empty the pitcher in Genesis 24:20? At what pace does she return to the well? For how many camels does she draw? Who gazes at her (Genesis 24:21)? How does he remain? What is he learning? How much have the camels drunk in Genesis 24:22? What does he take out in this verse? What does he ask about her in Genesis 24:23? What does he ask about his caravan? What does she answer about herself in Genesis 24:24? What does she answer about his caravan in Genesis 24:25? To whom does the man respond in Genesis 24:26? How does he respond? What does he call Yahweh in Genesis 24:27? What does he say that Yahweh has not done? What does he say that Yahweh has done? What does the young woman run and do (Genesis 24:28)?
The servant asked for a sign, and the sign was fulfilled. Why isn’t he just carrying Rebekah off to Canaan already? Genesis 24:21 tells us that the servant, wondering (lit. gazing) at her remained silent so as to know whether Yahweh had prospered his journey or not.

We’re interested to watch, while he watches, to see what it is that the servant sees that leads to exuberant praise for the prospering of the journey. And we do see that Rebekah is from the right family, that she is respectful and kind, that the is diligent, that she is generous and strong and persevering, and that she is trustworthy.

But, it is perhaps good for us to spend a little time thinking about the liberty of making choices based upon God’s revealed instruction, while trusting His providential decree. People use the phrase “God’s will” to talk about both of those things, and end up confusing them into a superstition in which they are on a puzzle-search for “the one.” We do well to listen to Deuteronomy 29:29: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

So, believers are to trust Scriptures like Romans 8:28 and Romans 8:32 and Ephesians 1:11. This will help spare us from being hyper-romanticized about the search, or giving into anxiety over ending up alone. We can then, instead, proceed with joy, doing according to what God says is good for us to do, since we are sure that God will do whatever is good for us.

At the end of the day, a believer cannot miss out on the most important marriage of all—when Christ, by His Spirit, will have prepared us to be His own bride. In the end, no preparation to be a godly wife (or the kind of man who would suit well for a godly wife) is wasted—for even that marriage which we looked forward to, and may or may not ever have in this life, is ultimately most valuable as a preparation for the marriage of the Lamb!
What are some of the roles that God has you in right now? What does He say to do in them?
Suggested Songs: ARP45B “Daughter, Incline Your Ear” or TPH128B “Blest the Man That Fears Jehovah”

Saturday, December 28, 2019

2019.12.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 24:29-58

Questions from the Scripture text: Who comes to the well at what speed in Genesis 24:29? What does he see that makes him go to the man (Genesis 24:30)? What does he hear? So how does he greet Abraham’s servant in Genesis 24:31? When the servant has accepted the invitation, and food is set in front of him, why won’t he eat (Genesis 24:33)? How does he identify himself (Genesis 24:34)? How does he summarize Abraham’s life so far (Genesis 24:35)? What particular event does he especially highlight in Genesis 24:36? What has Isaac been given? What verses and event does the servant summarize in Genesis 24:37-41? What verses and event does the servant summarize in Genesis 24:42-48? What is the big question that he puts to them in Genesis 24:49? Who answer in Genesis 24:50? From where do they say that the thing comes? What do they say that they cannot do? What official answer do they give in Genesis 24:51? How AND TO WHOM does the servant respond in Genesis 24:52? What does the servant bring out now in Genesis 24:53? For whom? To whom does he also send gifts? What does he say in the morning (Genesis 24:54)? What request is made by whom in Genesis 24:55? How does the servant respond in Genesis 24:56? Whom do they propose asking in Genesis 24:57? How does she answer (Genesis 24:58)?
This is a match made in heaven. That’s the main point of Abraham’s servant’s message. That’s the main point of Rebekah’s family’s response. That’s the main point of the narrator: God is graciously, powerfully taking care of the covenant line out of which will come Jesus, the One in whom all the nations of the earth will be blessed. And to do that, God Himself has been at work for generations, in two families, to produce a marriage made in heaven.

We have seen from the beginning of Genesis that it’s in marriage and family that God especially glorifies His image in man. It’s in the context of marriage that Satan attacks for the fall. It’s through marriage and family that God plans to bring the Redeemer. And it has often been upon marriage and family that the wellbeing of the covenant line has risen and fallen.

This passage again highlights how important an issue this is.  In Genesis 24:33, we find that it’s more important than food.  There we find the servant saying that he will not eat, and indeed there’s no eating until Genesis 24:54!  It’s also more important than politeness, for this refusal to eat would have been terribly rude.  It’s actually very gracious that the response at the end of verse 33 is “speak on.”  What we would expect is “eat first, speak later,” just as we saw in Genesis 18.

And there is a lesson here for us.  We can be very concerned with earthly needs.  We can be very concerned with “fitting in” socially and culturally.  And it is possible to let those concerns be more important than such spiritual issues with such eternal implications as the spiritual wellbeing of our marriage and family. 
What is there, that Scripture says is God’s way of promoting your and your family’s spiritual health, that you should be giving a higher priority? Why aren’t you?
Suggested songs: ARP128 “How Blessed Are All Who Fear” or TPH128B “How Blest Are They That Fear the Lord”

Friday, December 27, 2019

2019.12.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 1:26-38

Questions from the Scripture text: What month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy was it in Luke 1:26? Whom does God send where? To whom (Luke 1:27)? How does Gabriel greet Mary in Luke 1:28? And how does she feel about this in Luke 1:29? How, then, does the angel respond to this (Luke 1:30)? What does the angel say that Mary will do (Luke 1:31)? What should she call her Son? What four things does Gabriel say about Jesus in Luke 1:32-33? Why doesn’t Mary think this is possible (Luke 1:34)? What does the angel say is the way in which she will conceive (Luke 1:35)? What will her Baby be called? What does the angel tell her about Elizabeth in Luke 1:36? What conclusion does he state in Luke 1:37? How does Mary respond in Luke 1:38?
There’s an irony in this passage—the main point of Gabriel’s message is that the 2 Samuel 7 promise of a forever-king from the house of David (Luke 1:27Luke 1:32-33) is coming true. But this is a problem for Mary. How can this promised “son” have David for his “father”—if there is no man on earth who could possibly have fathered a son with her?

It’s at this point that Gabriel tells her that there will be no earthly father at all. It will be the Holy Spirit who comes by the power of the Highest (Luke 1:35). This explains why He will be the Son of the Highest (Luke 1:32), and now He is more plainly called “the Son of God” in verse 35. The angel adds the news about Elizabeth as if to say, “for all practical purposes, that baby came from no mother, since she’s in her old age—God is not limited by what we happen to be missing.” “For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37).

It’s important to see that Mary recognizes this. Yes, she is a “highly favored one” and “blessed among women,” as the angel said in Luke 1:28. But, she doesn’t see herself as anything special in herself. She says, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord!” Her specialness is only because God has chosen to make her a display of His power to save. And this is true of each one who is saved by Him! Jesus needed to have no earthly father, because each of us who do have completely lost any worthiness of our own, and deserve only to be spectacularly punished forever for our sin. The “glory” of Mary comes in the same way that true glory will come to every believer—only by the grace of God.
Why aren’t you a good candidate to be “savable”? How can you be saved anyway?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place”

Thursday, December 26, 2019

2019.12.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 5:13-15

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle call them in Galatians 5:13? To what does he say they have been called? What does he warn them against using their liberty as? For what should they use their liberty? Through what may we serve one another? Does Galatians 5:14 argue for disregarding the law? How does it say to fulfill the law? What does he warn them against doing to one another in Galatians 5:15? What does he warn them will happen if they do this?
One of the great treasures of the book of Galatians for us is how its teaching absolutely frees us from others’ (and our own!) additions to what God has commanded in His Word. What liberty!

But that’s the question—to what end have we been given this liberty? The answer of our passage is: we have been freed in order to love and serve. The apostle himself is an example of this. He is free from all of the inventions of the Judaizers, but what is he using his freedom to do? To serve, by writing, those whom he lovingly calls “brethren” in Galatians 5:13.

Christian freedom is not the throwing off of all outward restraint. It is a freedom from what comes from us (after all—our sin and death came from us too!), in order to be controlled by that life and love that comes from Christ. So, it does not result in the rejection of God’s law, but in finally keeping it well for the first time. Jesus summarized the “ten words” into “two words,” love of God and love of neighbor. And ultimately, that’s one word: love.

Love embraces the law in order to do good to its object. “Through love, serve one another.” “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Who can tell us what it looks like to love? What can define “doing good” to others? God’s law! So liberty is not lawlessness. It is not giving in to the hatefulness to which we had been enslaved, which the Judaizers ironically were doing. Liberty translates into law-keeping, because we have been freed to love!
What’s a situation in which your flesh feels like doing wrong, but you can do right if freed by love?
Suggested songs: ARP135 “Your Name, Lord, Endures Forever” or TPH16A “Preserve Me, O My God”

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

2019.12.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ruth 3:7-13

Questions from the Scripture text: What had Boaz one (Ruth 3:7)? How did his heart feel? Where did he lie down? What did Ruth do? What happened at midnight (Ruth 3:8)? What did he ask (Ruth 3:9)? What does Ruth call herself? For what does she ask? What does Boaz say about her in Ruth 3:10? What reason does he give? What promise does he make in Ruth 3:11? What does he note about her character? What obstacle does he mention in Ruth 3:12? What procedure will he follow (Ruth 3:13)? What does he tell her to do?
The heart of this account is Boaz’s declaration about Ruth in Ruth 3:11 that he has learned from experience what everyone already knew about Ruth by reputation—that she is a “worthy woman” (verse 11). This is the same adjective used of Boaz in Ruth 2:1 (where some English translations dumb it down to “wealth”) and of the Proverbs 31 woman in Proverbs 31:10.

It is a sad comment on our culture then, that we are have grown so obsessed with perversion that many commentators now read such things into this passage. Ruth comes at the only time that she would not corner Boaz embarrassingly, and places herself in the position least compromising to him, while making herself very vulnerable. Boaz acknowledges all of this when he encourages her not to fear in Ruth 3:11.

He recognizes that whereas she could have gone first for a rich and young (or even poor and young) man, she has chosen to go after the man that seems best before Yahweh (by Whom He calls her blessed in Ruth 3:10). The implication is also that she is doing what is best for Noami.

For his part, Boaz is willing to risk his own line to be a redeemer (the way that the other goel refuses to do on the next day). He also is willing to risk his own reputation (making modern commentators’ accusation all the more ironic) for her safety. The text is clear that their encounter is innocent. She lay at his feet until morning. But accusations from the wicked are not unique to our age, and it was a risk for Boaz to have her remain. Yet, with the gates of the city shut till morning, he finds it better to risk his name than to risk her safety.

We have here the way two different “worthy” (virtuous) people think—they think long-term and according to God’s priorities. How will we think, when it comes time to make job choices, school choices, and yes even marriage choices? God grant that by Christ’s grace, we would think “worthily.”
How do you make your little choices every day? What kind of big choices is this training you to make? What would it look like to be making your little choices in a better way?
Suggested Songs: ARP119A “How Blessed Are Those” or TPH119E “Teach Me, O Lord, Your Way of Truth”

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

2019.12.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 15:1-6

Questions from the Scripture text: What came to Abram and when (Genesis 15:1)? What did He tell Abram NOT to do? What two things did He promise to be unto Abram? What reason does Abram give in Genesis 15:2 for this not being as good news to him as it could be? What does Abram say that God has not given him (Genesis 15:3)? What is said (again!) to come to Abram in Genesis 15:4? What does Yahweh say about Eliezer? What does He say about the one who will be Abram’s heir? Where does the Lord bring Abram in Genesis 15:5? Where does He tell Abram to look? What does He tell Abram to try to do? What does He say to Abram about his ability to number the stars? How does Abram respond to Yahweh in Genesis 15:6? What is accounted to Abram through this believing? 
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Song of Adoration come from Genesis 15:1-6 in order to sing God’s thoughts after Him with I Greet Thee Who My Sure Redeemer Art.

It seems almost blasphemous for Abram to ask God, “What can You give me?” Not only was God the One who had made the promise, but what He had promised was Himself.

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

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

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

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

And Abram believed God about that one (Genesis 15:6, cf. Romans 4, Galatians 3:6, James 2:23). And he was made righteous before God, and received God Himself as his shield and reward.
When are you going to die? Do you have a shield that is stronger than death?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH282 “I Greet Thee Who My Sure Redeemer Art”

Monday, December 23, 2019

2019.12.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 24:18-28

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Rebekah say in Genesis 24:18? What does she do? What does she propose to do in Genesis 24:19? How many camels would this be? Until they have drunk how much? In what manner does she empty the pitcher in Genesis 24:20? At what pace does she return to the well? For how many camels does she draw? Who gazes at her (Genesis 24:21)? How does he remain? What is he learning? How much have the camels drunk in Genesis 24:22? What does he take out in this verse? What does he ask about her in Genesis 24:23? What does he ask about his caravan? What does she answer about herself in Genesis 24:24? What does she answer about his caravan in Genesis 24:25? To whom does the man respond in Genesis 24:26? How does he respond? What does he call Yahweh in Genesis 24:27? What does he say that Yahweh has not done? What does he say that Yahweh has done? What does the young woman run and do (Genesis 24:28)?
The servant asked for a sign, and the sign was fulfilled. Why isn’t he just carrying Rebekah off to Canaan already? Genesis 24:21 tells us that the servant, wondering (lit. gazing) at her remained silent so as to know whether Yahweh had prospered his journey or not.

We’re interested to watch, while he watches, to see what it is that the servant sees that leads to exuberant praise for the prospering of the journey. And we do see that Rebekah is from the right family, that she is respectful and kind, that the is diligent, that she is generous and strong and persevering, and that she is trustworthy.

But, it is perhaps good for us to spend a little time thinking about the liberty of making choices based upon God’s revealed instruction, while trusting His providential decree. People use the phrase “God’s will” to talk about both of those things, and end up confusing them into a superstition in which they are on a puzzle-search for “the one.” We do well to listen to Deuteronomy 29:29: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

So, believers are to trust Scriptures like Romans 8:28 and Romans 8:32 and Ephesians 1:11. This will help spare us from being hyper-romanticized about the search, or giving into anxiety over ending up alone. We can then, instead, proceed with joy, doing according to what God says is good for us to do, since we are sure that God will do whatever is good for us.

At the end of the day, a believer cannot miss out on the most important marriage of all—when Christ, by His Spirit, will have prepared us to be His own bride. In the end, no preparation to be a godly wife (or the kind of man who would suit well for a godly wife) is wasted—for even that marriage which we looked forward to, and may or may not ever have in this life, is ultimately most valuable as a preparation for the marriage of the Lamb!
What are some of the roles that God has you in right now? What does He say to do in them?
Suggested Songs: ARP45B “Daughter, Incline Your Ear” or TPH128B “Blest the Man That Fears Jehovah”

Saturday, December 21, 2019

2019.12.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 24:18-28

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Rebekah say in Genesis 24:18? What does she do? What does she propose to do in Genesis 24:19? How many camels would this be? Until they have drunk how much? In what manner does she empty the pitcher in Genesis 24:20? At what pace does she return to the well? For how many camels does she draw? Who gazes at her (Genesis 24:21)? How does he remain? What is he learning? How much have the camels drunk in Genesis 24:22? What does he take out in this verse? What does he ask about her in Genesis 24:23? What does he ask about his caravan? What does she answer about herself in Genesis 24:24? What does she answer about his caravan in Genesis 24:25? To whom does the man respond in Genesis 24:26? How does he respond? What does he call Yahweh in Genesis 24:27? What does he say that Yahweh has not done? What does he say that Yahweh has done? What does the young woman run and do (Genesis 24:28)?
There’s an explosion of praise to Yahweh in Genesis 24:26-27. In Genesis 24:21, he had been watching Rebekah closely to see if Yahweh had made his journey successful. And what he has seen has answered that question with a resounding, “yes!” So, what had he seen? He could see immediately that she was pretty (Genesis 24:16)—but what was he closely watching? What does a godly wife for one of Abraham’s children look like?

A godly wife is respectful. She address this stranger as “lord”—often the equivalent of “sir”—in Genesis 24:18.

A godly wife is prompt and diligent—note the word “quickly” in verse 18 and “quickly” and “ran” in Genesis 24:20 (and again in Genesis 24:28).

A godly wife is generous. He had asked for just a little water. She offers to draw not just for him, but for his camels. All ten of his camels. Not just a little for each, but until they have finished drinking.

A godly wife aims to support this generosity with strength. The 3-gallon pitcher, including the vessel, would have weighed around 25 pounds full.

A godly wife aims to support this generosity with endurance. Each of these camels would drink around 25 gallons of water after a journey like this—that’s 80 (!) trips up out of the well with the 25-pound pitcher.

A godly wife is from the right family. We already know that this is one of the main concerns of this narrative, but we see it again in Genesis 24:23-24, and all of the other characteristics belong to this conclusion in Genesis 24:27, “Yahweh led me to the house of my master’s brethren.”

A godly wife is trustworthy. Rebekah is sure of Bethuel and Laban’s confidence in her judgment. She is able to invite a ten camel caravan to stay without checking. She is aware of the house operations and stores, such that she knows that they are capable of accommodating them.

It is no surprise that these characteristics are so consistent with the fruit of the Spirit (cf. Galatians 5:22-26). For this is how Christ is outfitting His own eternal, glorious bride!

These are all characteristics that we should be seeking to instill in our daughters, reinforce in our sisters in Christ, and especially attend to the means of grace together—by which means we trust that God will do that inward work that is necessary to produce such characteristics. And, when we consider prospects for our sons or our brothers in Christ, these should be among the primary characteristics that we seek.
In which of these do you most need to grow? What are the means by which the Lord produces it in the heart? What are the providential means by which it is exercised?
Suggested songs: ARP128 “How Blessed Are All Who Fear” or TPH400 “Gracious Spirit, Dwell with Me”

Friday, December 20, 2019

2019.12.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 1:5-25

Questions from the Scripture text: What time period is it in Luke 1:5? To whom does Luke 1:5-7 introduce us? What are they like? What is their difficulty? What does he get the opportunity to do in Luke 1:8-10? Who appears to Zacharias, and how does he respond (Luke 1:11-12)? What does the angel tell him (Luke 1:13-14)? What will be some unusual things about this son (Luke 1:15)? What will the Lord use John to do (Luke 1:16)? Before whom will John go (Luke 1:16b-Luke 1:17a)? What effect will John’s ministry have (Luke 1:17)? What does Zacharias ask in Luke 1:18? What does the angel’s response in Luke 1:19-20 reveal about the spirit of Zacharias’s question? What did the people outside find unusual about Zacharias’s time in the temple (Luke 1:21-22)? What happens after this (Luke 1:23-24)? What does Elizabeth do (Luke 1:24-25)?
The Lord has given to the barren. This was true of Abraham and Sarah. This is true of Zacharias and Elizabeth. This is true of all who are redeemed in Christ (cf. Isaiah 54:1). In Luke 1:24, Gabriel draws an analogy between what God is doing for the elderly couple specifically and what God is doing for “many” more generally. How will this happen? Because the Holy Spirit will be using John to “turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God” (Luke 1:16).

It’s at this point that Gabriel drops a huge hint about who Jesus is: this John is going to go before Him—in context, the “Him” is the Lord, the God of Israel! Jesus is Yahweh!

So, what exactly is baby John going to grow up to do? John’s ministry is going to be one of preparing the way for Jesus, and the angel tells Zacharias that this happens by “making ready a people prepared for the Lord.” We know that John preached repentance of all sorts (cf. 3:10-14), but here the focus is especially on that repentance that Malachi had predicted (cf. Malachi 3:1Malachi 4:5-6).

Lack of love between fathers and their children is an especially grievous sin before God, who created this relationship to show something about His own relationships both within the Godhead (the Father and the Son) and toward His people (whom He adopts in Christ). One of the key parts of the repentance that John will preach will be the reformation and revival of this relationship (Luke 1:17).

How desperately we need this work of the Holy Spirit to change our hearts about everything! We’re so much like Zacharias—hearts so hard with doubt that we can go from being terrified of the angel to arguing against his words.

But this is our reproach. That we are so spiritually barren. So wicked before God. So unbelieving of His gracious Word. So God sends that Word out in front of the Lord Jesus, preparing our hearts by the Holy Spirit’s powerfully using the preaching of His Word. And He grants unto us a repentance that prepares the way for Jesus—that we might recognize and rest upon the Lord Himself who became a man to save us!
From what sins in your life is the Holy Spirit turning you, to trust in Jesus to save you?
Suggested songs: ARP51B “From My Sins, O Hide Your Face” or TPH180 “Kind and Merciful God”

Thursday, December 19, 2019

2019.12.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 5:7-12

Questions from the Scripture text: How does the apostle describe their former Christian walk in Galatians 5:7? What question does he now ask? From whom does the apostle say that their new ideas have not come (Galatians 5:8)? What does Galatians 5:9 call additions to the Christian religion that do not come from God? What do such additions do to the rest of one’s Christianity? What does the apostle have confidence will be their response to his letter (Galatians 5:10a)? But what does the apostle say will happen to the one who holds to these additions? What have some, apparently, been saying that Paul still teaches (Galatians 5:11a)? But what is he suffering for preaching as sufficient without circumcision? To what does the apostle equate the idea that circumcision has spiritual value (Galatians 5:12)? 
Paul had heard that the Galatian church had begun observing days and months and seasons and years (Galatians 4:10) and hoping that circumcision would grow them in their Christianity (5:6). So he puts the question to them: who hindered you from obeying the truth (Galatians 5:7)? That is to say, “from whom did these ideas come?”

That’s a question that we should ask ourselves about everything that we think belongs to the Christian religion. And there’s only one good answer. In fact, Galatians 5:8 suggests another way that we could ask this question, “Does this idea come from Him who called me?” For us even to make a beginning in Christianity, God had to effectually call us; He had to give us life by His Word. So, as we go forward in our Christian walk, only that which God has commanded can have spiritual value to grow us. You can’t have a religion that is wholly dependent upon God’s grace and also includes manmade ideas of how to get grace—“a little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9). That is to say: a little manmade religion turns the whole thing into manmade religion.

As in other places (Hebrews 6:4-9; Hebrews 10:26-39) where believers had fallen into something potentially spiritually fatal, the apostle expresses confidence (not in them but in the Lord!) that the Galatians will end up rejecting the manmade teaching (Galatians 5:10a)—noting that those who brought it to Galatia are coming under a judgment in which they do not want to share (verse 10b)! So, we do see that it is possible for true believers to stumble into manmade additions to Christianity. Let us, therefore, be all the more watchful of ourselves, knowing that we are susceptible to it. But, let this watchfulness be with a clinging to Christ, and asking Him that if we stumble, He would turn us back to His mind in the Scripture.

Of course, there was a proper understanding of circumcision—that it had been something that looked forward to Christ. So, Paul’s opponents claimed that he too was preaching circumcision as they were. But the apostle points to the fact that he was being persecuted for refusing to add anything to Christ and His cross. When he preached that their manmade ideas would diminish the cross of Christ, they were offended (Galatians 5:11).

The apostle then uses a vivid comparison to show the folly of their misuse of circumcision: it was as bad as making themselves eunuchs (a part of pagan religions, but never commanded by God, and would have disqualified them from the assembly of God’s people in the time of circumcision, cf. Deuteronomy 23:1). Manmade additions to Christianity can seem innocent, but this is not the Holy Spirit’s view of it!
What are some things about which you might need to ask about from whom they came?
Suggested songs: ARP135 “Your Name, Lord, Endures Forever” or TPH16A “Preserve Me, O My God”

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

2019.12.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ruth 3:1-6

Questions from the Scripture text: Who is speaking to Ruth (Ruth 3:1)? For whom does she say that she will seek rest (“security” in NKJV)? What does she ask about Boaz in Ruth 3:2? What does she tell Ruth about him? What does she tell Ruth to do to herself in Ruth 3:3? Where does she say to go? For what does she say to wait? For what else does Ruth 3:4 say to wait? Where should she go then? What should she do? What will Boaz do? How does Ruth respond to all of this advice from Naomi (Ruth 3:5)? What does she do in Ruth 3:6?
Back in Ruth 1:9, Naomi had urged Ruth and Orpah to go find rest in the house of a new husband, but Ruth had chosen instead to stay with Naomi. Now, Naomi uses the same word to tell Ruth that she will seek rest (security) for her. It’s pretty plain that these instructions are an effort to secure for Ruth a husband.

They’ve been back some three months. Harvesting and threshing are done. Boaz is now onto winnowing, the removal of the chaff that remains after threshing. Ruth has not been approached yet, perhaps as a result of Naomi’s instruction in Ruth 2:22. In fact, she has continued up to this point to behave according to the practice of mourners: not washing or anointing, and wearing mourning clothing.

Now, Naomi tells her to change all of these things. It is very important that we read this passage in light of the custom at the time, and especially in light of what Boaz says in Ruth 2:11 and Ruth 2:14—recognizing that she has conducted herself in a godly manner, and acting to preserve this accurate reputation of hers. The change in behavior is a declaration that she has completed her mourning. Perhaps Naomi suspects that Boaz has not approached Ruth because he was respecting her grief.

It’s also important to note where Naomi tells Ruth to lay down—not next to him, which would have been an inappropriate invitation, but at his feet. There is a statement of availability, which she will make explicit in Ruth 3:9 (asking him to be a goel/redeemer). But, it comes not as an act of seduction but as an act of submission. The passage emphasizes her submission and obedience to Naomi, and presents her as offering the same to Boaz, if he is willing to take her as a wife.

Such situations are difficult to navigate. In a similar one in Genesis 38 (which is brought to mind by Ruth 4:12), Tamar conducted herself immorally (but was still more righteous than Judah). Here, however, Ruth is protected both by her own grace-sustained character, and by having the good counsel of her mother-in-law.

How often, in the church and the Christian life, people have ended up making sinful choices in desperate situations, or out of sincere and good intentions! Let us learn to be committed first and foremost to living rightly before the face of God, and let us avail ourselves of the help of the godly in doing so.
How do you maintain and grow a godly character? Whom has He given to help you?
Suggested Songs: ARP119A “How Blessed Are Those” or TPH119E “Teach Me, O Lord, Your Way of Truth”

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

2019.12.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 2:3-11

Questions from the Scripture text: How should nothing be done (Philippians 2:3)? How should each view others? If we esteem others better than ourselves, for whose interests should we look out (Philippians 2:4)? Whose mindset was like that (Philippians 2:5)? Who is in the form of God (Philippians 2:6)? What was not robbery for Christ Jesus? What form did He take (Philippians 2:7)? What likeness? How low did Jesus humble Himself (Philippians 2:8)? Who exalted Him (Philippians 2:9)? What name did He give Him? Which knees will bow at the name of Jesus (Philippians 2:10)? What will every tongue confess (Philippians 2:11)? To whose glory? 
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Song of Adoration come from Philippians 2:3-11 in order to sing God’s thoughts after Him with Rejoice, the Lord Is King.  Here, we learn about Christ’s humiliating Himself for our sakes. Becoming a man. Enduring weakness. Suffering trials. And, of course, the greatest was submitting Himself to death… particularly death on a cross.

Our passage from Philippians points out something shocking about His doing this. When Jesus gave Himself for us, He was treating us as if we are as important as He is. He was attending not only to His own interests but also to ours.

We have two required responses.

The first way to respond to how Christ humbled Himself for us is to humble ourselves. Not just a little, but completely. Overlooking offenses, backing out of rivalries, treating everyone as better and more important than ourselves.

Of course, there are some people with whom that is easier than with others. If we’re imitating Christ, and examining ourselves, it’s the hardest people that we have to focus upon. With whom are we having difficulty? Nursing an offense? In a rivalry? Those who are sinning against us (as we have done to Him!) are the ones with whom we must most imitate Christ.

The second way to respond, the eternal way, is to worship. Every mention of His Name should be precious to us. We shouldn’t be able to tolerate any misuse of His Name. It is the Name that should always make our knees to bend, always make our tongue confess that He who gave Himself for us is Lord.

Finally, let us consider that it is not only the Son who has given all. God the Father, for our poor sakes, has given the humiliation and death of His beloved Son, with whom He is pleased!
With whom do you most need to humble yourself? How are you honoring Jesus?
Suggested songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken” or TPH281 “Rejoice, the Lord Is King”

Monday, December 16, 2019

2019.12.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 24:10-21

Questions from the Scripture text: What did the servant take (Genesis 24:10)? How many? Why was he able to take so much? To what region did he go? To what city? Where did he make the camels kneel (Genesis 24:11)? When? Who did what at that time? To Whom does he speak in Genesis 24:12? What does he call Him? What does he ask for himself? Unto whom does he ask God to show steadfast love? What does he tell God in Genesis 24:13? What does he assume that God has appointed (Genesis 24:14)? How does he ask to be able to identify her? When does he see Rebekah (Genesis 24:15)? From whose family is she? What is she carrying? What does she look like (Genesis 24:16)? What else do we learn about her? What does she do? What does the servant do at the beginning of Genesis 24:17? What does he ask? What does she say in Genesis 24:18? What does she do? What does she propose to do in Genesis 24:19? How many camels would this be? Until they have drunk how much? In what manner does she empty the pitcher in Genesis 24:20? At what pace does she return to the well? For how many camels does she draw? Who gazes at her (Genesis 24:21)? How does he remain? What is he learning?
In Genesis 24:45, we learn that much of this takes place in the servant’s heart, as he prays. The Holy Spirit is allowing us to eavesdrop on the prayers of a man whose faith has been formed by grace in Abraham’s house. What do we learn here about the prayer of faith?

First, faith prays with action. The servant is certainly intentional, careful, and vigorous in his actions seeking the very things for which he is asking God. God has given us means, and prayer is one of the most important of them; but if we are really trusting Him, let us employ all of the means that He has placed at our disposal.

Second, faith prays as an act of worship. The servant acknowledges who God is, and that God has made a special relationship with Abraham. As he asks God to do what is needed to keep those promises, he is honoring God by treating Him according to who He is, what He has done, and what He has promised. The servant’s prayer is an act of worship.

Finally, faith prays with trust. The servant trusts that God cares to hear about his circumstances and requests. The servant trusts that God has already been doing all of the things that are necessary—creating Rebekah, working in her life, and even that she is already on the way to the well! The servant trusts that God’s wisdom is best—he doesn’t just assume that because his sign was fulfilled, that Rebekah must be the one. Instead, he uses God-given and God-instructed wisdom as he observes her. Maybe God has planned some other way of providing a wife than the one for which the servant has asked. The only way to know is to watch her to see what kind of woman she is—whether Yahweh has made his journey successful or not.
In which of these aspects of praying with faith do you most need to grow? How will you?
Suggested Songs: ARP5 “Listen to My Words, O Lord” or TPH518 “Come, My Soul, with Every Care”

Saturday, December 14, 2019

2019.12.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 24:10-21

Questions from the Scripture text: What did the servant take (Genesis 24:10)? How many? Why was he able to take so much? To what region did he go? To what city? Where did he make the camels kneel (Genesis 24:11)? When? Who did what at that time? To Whom does he speak in Genesis 24:12? What does he call Him? What does he ask for himself? Unto whom does he ask God to show steadfast love? What does he tell God in Genesis 24:13? What does he assume that God has appointed (Genesis 24:14)? How does he ask to be able to identify her? When does he see Rebekah (Genesis 24:15)? From whose family is she? What is she carrying? What does she look like (Genesis 24:16)? What else do we learn about her? What does she do? What does the servant do at the beginning of Genesis 24:17? What does he ask? What does she say in Genesis 24:18? What does she do? What does she propose to do in Genesis 24:19? How many camels would this be? Until they have drunk how much? In what manner does she empty the pitcher in Genesis 24:20? At what pace does she return to the well? For how many camels does she draw? Who gazes at her (Genesis 24:21)? How does he remain? What is he learning?
It's very interesting to observe Abraham’s eldest servant praying. Scripture refers to believers as the true children of Abraham who have the faith of Abraham in the Lord Jesus. So, what might the prayer life look like of one who spent his life in Abraham’s household, and was Abraham’s closest confidant?

First, a life of believing prayer is consistent with a life of planning and action. This is Abraham’s oldest servant, but he oversees quite the caravan—ten camels, carrying goods, all the way to Mesopotamia. There is a misconception among some that earnest and genuine prayer is somehow wedded to declining to plan ahead or exert oneself vigorously—as if spontaneity and inactivity are somehow of the essence of a life of prayer. But Abraham’s servant here displays careful planning and vigorous action.

Second, believing prayer is tied to who God is and what God has promised. Consider the address in Genesis 24:12, “Yahweh, God of my master Abraham… show covenant love (kessed) to my master Abraham.” It is the Lord who has revealed Himself as the One who makes covenant with Abraham to bring redemption to the world in him. Now, the servant’s prayer for success is not merely brought in the context of an immediate connection between him and God, but in a relationship that is mediated through the Lord’s appointed covenant representative.

On this side of Pentecost, we have more claim to a direct connection with the Lord—we have His Spirit dwelling in us, and His Spirit is a “spirit of adoption” to us (cf. Romans 8:15), who trains our souls to call upon God as our “Abba, Father.” But even with this direct connection, the New Testament consistently tells us to pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ—coming to God through Him, our appointed covenant representative who is not merely a man on earth who will die, but a resurrected Man in heaven who will never die. Believing prayer is deeply conscious of coming to God as the Lord who has committed Himself to us in Christ, accomplished our redemption in Christ, and is now bringing about all that Christ has earned and accomplished.

Third, believing prayer tells God both our circumstances and our desires. Perhaps you have heard the question, “If God already knows what He is going to do, why pray?” But, since it is the God who already knows what He is going to do who has commanded us to pray, we can draw the conclusion that He has planned to do what He will do as a response to our praying. Thus, He reveals Himself as One who listens to His people’s voices, who cares to hear from us and to take action as a function of His love for us and response to us. The faith that this servant has learned in Abraham’s household expresses itself in telling God his circumstances (Genesis 24:13), and making very specific requests (Genesis 24:14).

Fourth, believing prayer assumes that God is already answering. Rebekah appears before he finishes speaking (Genesis 24:15), but in Genesis 24:17 the servant proceeds with the very specific request that he had made. To the believer, it makes all the sense in the world that God was already carrying out His response to our prayer before we even made it! This is the prayer that does not doubt (cf. James 1:2-8).

Finally, believing prayer embraces the freedom of God to answer according to His perfect will, over and above the details of our particular requests. Consider Abraham’s servant in Genesis 24:21—as he considers Rebekah. He does not reason that since the details of the circumstances are as he asked that she is automatically a proper wife for Isaac. He is observing to see whether she is indeed the kind of woman that Isaac should marry. We too should be careful not to determine what God wants us to do by a superstitious identifying of signs (requested signs or otherwise), but only by God’s revealed will in His Word!
What might you do differently in prayer after observing Abrahamic faith as it prays?
Suggested songs: ARP65A “Praise Awaits You, God” or TPH234 “The God of Abraham Praise”

Friday, December 13, 2019

God's Recipe for Courageous Christians (2019.12.13 Pastoral Letter from the Hopewell Herald)

The following is the pastoral letter from today's Herald. You can click the red link in the upper-lefthand corner to receive the Herald, and other occasional congregational communications, via email.



One of today’s Scripture readings on the M’Cheyne plan is 2Chronicles 15.

To Israel (as both a nation and a church), Yahweh sent a prophet to say, “The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you. For a long time Israel has been without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without law; but when in their trouble they turned to the Lord God of Israel, and sought Him, He was found by them” (2Chr 15:2-4). The Lord Jesus speaks similarly to churches in Revelation 2-3.

So, how will we respond to this reminder? What was its effect in the life of Asa? “And when Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and removed the abominable idols from all the land.”

He took courage. Undoubtedly, courage was needed, as his actions would be unpopular. But it was the Word of God, announcing how mercifully God responds to repentance, that God used to give Asa courage.

This, too, is the aim of the warnings/invitations in the letters to the churches in Revelation: that we might take courage to overcome our fears and all other resistance to faithfulness to Christ (cf. Rev 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:26, 3:5, 3:12, 3:21, 21:7).

As Christians, we need the Word of God, to press into us the reality of the unseen world, so that we will walk by faith and not by sight. It is difficult to do so. Asa couldn't see the living God. The first century church couldn't see the ascended Christ seated in glory. 

Do we desire to live corum deo, “before the face of God”? Do we desire the courage to be so mindful of Him that earthly fears and resistance fade? Do we desire to live courageously?

Then, here is one means toward that end. God sends His Word to sharpen our view of the seriousness of His threats. God sends His Word to sharpen our view of the strength and certainty of His merciful response to repentance. God sends His Word to bring the unseen world into focus, and push all competition into the background.

And never is this more true than when we worship Him by that Word, and visit that unseen world by faith in the Lord’s Day assembly (Heb 12:18-29).

Looking forward to doing so together,

Pastor

2019.12.15 Worship Booklet now available

The link to the Worship Booklet has been updated. It contains instruction for preparing for the Lord's Supper, so that we may come to His table in the manner that His Word directs. May the Lord bless its use to you!

2019.12.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 1:1-4

Questions from the Scripture text: What have many attempted to do (Luke 1:1)? What two types of people had delivered these things (Luke 1:2)? What kind of understanding does Luke have as he writes (Luke 1:3)? What kind of account is he writing? To whom is he writing? What does Luke want him to know (Luke 1:4)? What does he want him to be certain about?
Christianity is a religion of facts and reality. Theophilus has been instructed (more literally, “catechized,” Luke 1:4). What does God use to increase his experiential confidence (“know the certainty”) in what he believes? Historical facts: “set in order a narrative” (Luke 1:1) and “orderly account” (Luke 1:3).

God the Son became a man, lived a perfectly righteous life while displaying Himself to be the promised Savior and God-man, then died an accursed death as He gave His life as a ransom for sinners. This is an event of history. He has risen from the dead, and by His Spirit He is bringing sinners unto saving faith in Himself. This is a present reality. And this is the substance of Christianity.

What does Christ use to bring us to this faith? His Word. Some traditions have made much of the apostles—putting them on another level of sainthood from the ordinary Christian, even praying to them and venerating them. This is not what the evangelist does in Luke 1:2. Like John at the end of his own gospel (cf. John 21:24), Luke teaches us to value the apostles especially as “eyewitnesses and ministers of the word.” They testify to the history, and their testimony is the appointed instrument of Christ.

In fact, the word translated “from the very first” in Luke 1:3 can mean that with reference to time, but its most basic meaning is “from above.” It sure seems to fit better with a “perfect” (literally, “accurate”) understanding that it has come from above—Luke, here, is telling us that by whatever means he learned these things, he is writing them with an accuracy that is the result of divine inspiration. We can take him not at his word, but at God’s Word.

If our Christianity is just feelings about God, or habits we practice, or even a system of theology, we will not read the Gospel of Luke correctly. Surely, Scripture stirs up to certain feelings about God that it tells us that we should have, and it commands and inspires certain habits that we must practice, and it teaches us a system of theology to which it urges us to hold. But, if we are listening to the Scripture, we find none of these at the center of our Christianity. Rather, at the center we find Christ Himself—what He has done, and who He is.

Is Christ Himself the center of your Christian life?
How important to you are historical facts about Jesus? Who is He? What has He done? How does He increase our confidence in Him? What use are you making of it?
Suggested songs: ARP19B “The LORD’s Most Perfect Law” or TPH170 “God in the Gospel of His Son”

Thursday, December 12, 2019

2019.12.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 5:1-6

Questions from the Scripture text: In what does the apostle command them to stand fast (Galatians 5:1)? Who has given us our freedom? What does the apostle again call submission to the Jewish church calendar and ceremonies? What are they considering doing, according to Galatians 5:2? How much will Christ profit them, if they seek spiritual value in circumcision? And if a man is circumcised because he feels a religious obligation to, what else is he indebted to do (Galatians 5:3)? What two things does Galatians 5:4 say have happened to those who attempt to be justified by law? Through Whose power did we come to faith (Galatians 5:5)? What do we eagerly expect to receive by this faith? What two things avail nothing, according to Galatians 5:6? What, in Christ Jesus, is effective?
The freedom that is being described here comes in the context of having made our transition from being under the guardian to having come into our inheritance (cf. Galatians 4:1-4, Galatians 4:9). The apostle’s point is twofold.

First, we should be embracing and celebrating the change that Christ brought from the slavery of outward forms to the sonship of simpler but fuller and more direct knowledge of God in Christ. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free!”

Second, if instead of embracing the change that Christ brought, we begin again to add external forms, we will be bringing ourselves back under that former slavery. The word translated “be entangled” has the sense “come under the control of.” We are easily entangled, easily controlled, by forms and patterns and practices in religion—and even the ones that point us to Christ quite easily take Christ’s place.

This is why the apostle warns them, “if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.” Why? Is uncircumcision a superior condition? Galatians 5:6 says that uncircumcision avails nothing! The problem is that it is the living Christ Whom we are to know and interact with in all our religion, which means that those things in which He has not currently appointed to give Himself become worse than worthless—they become competition to Christ and enslaving. Therefore, “If you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.”

The time had passed for circumcision (and other things, cf. Galatians 4:10-11) to keep God’s people focused upon the Christ to come. Attaching any religious value to circumcision would be to try to go back to that law as if it were possible to be saved by the forms that had been given by Moses—something that was never possible even at the time of Moses. This is what the apostle means when he says that becoming circumcised would obligate them to keep the whole law (Galatians 5:3), and that seeking standing before God in this way is to become “estranged from Christ” (Galatians 5:4).

Are we already what we ought to be? No! There is that holiness without which we will not see the Lord (cf. Hebrews 12:14). When we see Him, we will be like Him, and when that is our hope, we are devoted to purifying ourselves as He is pure (cf. 1 John 3:1-3). The question here is not whether or not there should be effort or growth in the Christian life.

The question is: how does that happen? If it’s not by circumcision, then is it by uncircumcision? Galatians 5:5-6 answers that it is neither of these things, but that the faith by which we have received righteous standing in Christ also depends upon the Spirit to give us the righteous character of Christ—something that is energized (made effective, “working” in verse 6) not by law but by love.
What are some things that man has added to “Christianity” that Christ hasn’t? What do Galatians 5:2 and Galatians 5:4 warn us will be the effect of practicing such things in addition to the current means by which Christ gives Himself to us and works in us? What place does love of Christ have in your own daily Christian walk? Where does Scripture say it comes from? What does Scripture say it does?
Suggested songs: ARP87 “The Lord’s Foundation” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place”

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Ruth 2:18-23 - "Clinging to the Redeemer"

An audio recording of a sample family worship lesson in today's Hopewell @Home Passage. Empathizing with Naomi's joy over Ruth's knowing Boaz as a redeemer conditions our hearts for the greater joy of knowing Jesus, our infinitely greater Redeemer!

2019.12.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ruth 2:18-23

Questions from the Scripture text: What did Ruth do with the 20 lb of barley grain that she had harvested and threshed (Ruth 2:18)? What did she do with her leftovers from lunch? What questions does this prompt from her mother-in-law (Ruth 2:19)? What does she assume that someone has done for Ruth? With whom does Ruth say she had worked? Upon whom does Naomi call to bless Boaz (Ruth 2:20)? Whom does Naomi say that the Lord has not forgotten? What information does Naomi now give to Ruth about Boaz? And what additional information does Ruth supply in Ruth 2:21? What is Naomi’s opinion of the situation (Ruth 2:22)? What does she tell Ruth not to let happen? How does Ruth respond to this advice (Ruth 2:23)?
Ruth has brought back quite a haul. Not only does she have around 20 pounds of freshly threshed barley grain, but she gives her mother-in-law her lunch leftovers. Naturally, Naomi would like to know from where all of this came. Surely someone has taken notice of Ruth (Ruth 2:19a)!

The news is better than Naomi had thought: Ruth reports that her benefactor was Boaz (verse 19b), which immediately calls forth exclamations of praise of Yahweh (Ruth 2:20). No longer does she speak of the Lord as smiting her, but rather remembering both her and her departed loved ones—probably, specifically, Mahlon or Chilion (we don’t know which had been Ruth’s husband!).

Why such a response? Because, as Naomi says at the end of verse 20, Boaz is their “close relative”—goel in Hebrew, “kinsman-redeemer.” Those in near enough relation to be called a goel had four responsibilities. (1) buy back any land that has been sold out of the clan (Leviticus 25:23-25), (2) buy back relatives who have become slaves by debt (Leviticus 25:47-49), (3) prosecute and avenge murder of any relatives (Numbers 35:16-19), and (4) marry a brother’s widow, if he died without an heir, so that their firstborn would be the heir of the brother (Deuteronomy 25:5-6).

It is this last duty of the redeemer that is most pertinent to Ruth and Naomi’s situation. Back in Ruth 1:11-13, Naomi had basically implied that no one back in Israel would ever do this for her daughters-in-law, sarcastically suggesting that she herself would have to remarry and have more sons for Ruth and Orpah. But now, Boaz, a relative close enough to be a redeemer, has shown favor toward Ruth!

Naomi urges Ruth to commit wholeheartedly to gleaning in Boaz’s field and not even meet anyone else. Ruth takes her advice, and stays for what would have been about three months of harvest. If this first day ended up being an average day, she could have harvested and threshed as much as 1500 lbs! This could have been sold for enough to make them quite comfortable, if not wealthy.

A Christian immediately recognizes his Redeemer here. The One who obtains for us all that we lost. The One who pays our debt and rescues us out of slavery. The One who has crushed the serpent’s head, and who avenges all wrongs done to us. And the One who is willing to take as His bride a church of those who are utterly disqualified—about whom the idea that one would have pity on her and marry her should have been laughable. And yet the Lord Jesus, our Redeemer, has taken us to Himself. Praise be unto the Lord, who has not forsaken His steadfast love to us in Christ!
Thinking of the four types of redemption that the goel was to do, in what ways have you personally needed Jesus do be your Redeemer? What has He done? Is He yours?
Suggested Songs: ARP183 “Under His Wings” or TPH265 “In Christ Alone”

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

2019.12.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 1:14-18

Questions from the Scripture text: What did the Word become (John 1:14)? What does this mean the Word had been before? When the Word became flesh, what did He do? What did the evangelist (John) behold? What kind of glory did they behold in the enfleshed Word? What did this glory mean that He was full of? Who bore witness of Him? Why did John the Evangelist say that Jesus was preferred to him (John 1:15)? From what have we received (John 1:16)? What did we receive from His fullness? What was given through Moses (John 1:17)? Through Whom did grace and truth come? Who has seen God (John 1:18)? When has someone seen God? Who has declared (exegeted) God? Where is this Son that declares God? 
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Song of Adoration come from John 1:14-18 in order to sing God’s thoughts after Him with Wondrous King All Glorious. This passage emphasizes that Jesus is God’s full and clear revelation of Himself.

No one has seen God at any time. In fact, we cannot see God, because He is invisible Spirit. But later in this book, Philip is going to ask to see the Father, and Jesus is going to answer, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”

Jesus’ point in John 14:9 is the same as John’s point in our little passage. Jesus is the complete revelation of the Father. There is nothing un-Jesus-like in God. If you have seen Jesus, there is nothing more left to see of God. Once you’ve seen Jesus, there is no longer any ground whatsoever to wish that you could see the Father.

Wow!! Of course, that wasn’t the first time that such a request was made. Moses had asked God to show Himself too, and when God did, He announced His own name in Exodus 34:6, “Yahweh, Yahweh God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.” When that last phrase was translated into Greek, it was exactly the phrase at the end of our John 1:14 today.

Jesus is Yahweh, who declared His name to Moses on the mountain! That’s what verse 14 is saying. And of course John 1:15 says that He is eternal. And John 1:16 says that He is the God of our salvation—all of our salvation—by grace upon grace. Moses came down from the mountain with the Law, but in Jesus Christ, Yahweh Himself has come down to us—all of that glory now inseparably joined to a human nature forever.

Oh, the wonder of this clause: “The Word became flesh”! If your chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, then there is nothing more central to your existence and your purpose than to know, worship, and enjoy this Jesus Christ—our Savior and our God.
What are some religions that claim to worship the same God as we do? Why don’t they really do so? Why is it important to increase our theological knowledge and skill?
Suggested songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken” or TPH280 “Wondrous King All Glorious”

Monday, December 9, 2019

2019.12.09 Hopewell Harbinger

Hopewell This Week, December 9-14
(click the red link in the upper-left of this page, if you wish to subscribe email to the Harbinger, Herald, and infrequent/urgent prayer requests and announcements)

▫An updated copy of yesterday’s worship booklet is at the link. Many thanks to Kathy Collins, who keeps the Hopewell @Home flowing seamlessly on the website, for her help with this! Also available are 8.5x11's of the memory verse and shorter catechism question that can be used as posters to help with memory work, along with images of the songs for next Lord's Day.


WEDNESDAY, PRAYER MEETING, 7p.m.
SATURDAY, MEN'S BREAKFAST, 6:30p.m.

Children’s Catechism for December 15
Q7. In how many persons does this one God exist? A. In three persons.


Songs for December 15: 
TPH280 "Wondrous King, All Glorious" 
ARP102B "My Days Like Evening’s Shade" 
TPH518 "Come, My Soul, with Every Care"

A.M. Sermon Text for December 15: Genesis 24:10-21
P.M. Exhortation Text for December 15: Galatians 5:1-6

LORD'S SUPPER in Morning worship on the 15th. You may wish to prepare for it by examining yourself in light of this document.

▫Memory Verse for December 15
(Genesis 24:21) And the man, wondering at her, remained silent so as to know whether the LORD had made his journey prosperous or 

Genesis 24:1-9 - Married by Faith

Audio from yesterday's sermon, as we follow it up in today's devotional.

2019.12.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 24:1-9

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Genesis 24:1 tell us about Abraham, to introduce this incident? How does the second half of the verse summarize Abraham’s condition/ circumstance? To whom does Abraham speak in Genesis 24:2? What does Abraham tell him to do? By whom must he swear (Genesis 24:3)? What must he swear not to do? Where must he go (Genesis 24:4)? To whom must he go? What must he get from them? What hypothetical problem does the servant propose in Genesis 24:5? What does he ask that he should do in such a case? What does Abraham strictly forbid him to do in Genesis 24:6? What has Yahweh done to Abraham (Genesis 24:7)? What has Yahweh promised to Abraham? What is Abraham confident that Yahweh will do? But what does Abraham say to do, even if this does not happen (Genesis 24:8)? What does the servant do in Genesis 24:9?
Scripture presents marriage to us as a wonderful thing. It was invented by God for the imaging of God (cf. Genesis 1:27), for the comfort and joy of man (Genesis 24:67, cf. Genesis 2:18), for the multiplication of godly offspring (cf. Genesis 1:28Genesis 2:18, Malachi 2:14-15), and even for the display of how Christ is with His church (cf. Ephesians 5:31-32). But what happens when we’re not directed by the Lord in our view and practice of marriage?

We’ve had one dreadful example of that already in Genesis 6. There, the promising godly line of Seth, who called upon the name of Yahweh (or perhaps better translated “were called by the name of Yahweh,” cf. Genesis 4:26) married not according to these purposes, but according to their own whim and their own idea of pleasure. “the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.”

So, Abraham comes up with a way to find Isaac a wife that goes along with all that God has told him. The Canaanites are wicked and under God’s curse, but also Abraham and his descendants must remain sojourners, which means that they cannot return to their family’s land (Genesis 24:7, cf. Genesis 15:13-21).

Thankfully, Abraham’s faith about marriage is not only that it would be directed by God, but that it would also be dependent upon God. He trusts that God will direct the servant’s way and work the situation out (Genesis 24:7), but also that God is wise enough to have His own plan that Abraham has not anticipated (Genesis 24:8). We can also see the implication that he is trusting that God has been doing a work of grace in a young lady’s heart somewhere for his son—and indeed we will soon see some of the fruit of that work when the servant meets Rebekah. God providentially works in our circumstances, just as He also works in our hearts by His grace. This is what frees Abraham to keep his instructions to his servant so laser-focused upon doing this according to the direction of God. The servant wants to know what to do if it doesn’t work out (Genesis 24:5), but the idea that it won’t ultimately work out isn’t even on Abraham’s radar. Just obedience is.

And ultimately, this is because our marriages, like everything else that there is, exist to glorify God. He is “Yahweh, the God of heaven and the God of the earth” (Genesis 24:3). He is “Yahweh God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house, etc.” (Genesis 24:7). He will be glorified in what occurs, but will we be devoting ourselves to and delighting ourselves in His glory? This is a question that can be applied to any situation—how necessary, then, that it would be the primary question when it comes to something to which He has given such an important place as marriage!
What does God want out of your future or present marriage? Even if you never marry, how can you participate in other believers’ pursuing marriage in God’s way? What aspect of your life have you been approaching as existing primarily to please you?
Suggested Songs: ARP45B “Daughter, Incline Your Ear” or TPH128B “Blest the Man That Fears Jehovah”