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Saturday, July 20, 2019

2019.07.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 15:1-6

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 19, 2019

2019.07.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 15:1-8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 18, 2019

2019.07.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 1:1-5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

2019.07.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Judges 8:22-32

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

2019.07.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 104

Read Psalm 104
Questions for Littles: How does this Psalm begin in the first two lines (Psalm 104:1-2) and end in the last two sentences of Psalm 104:35? With what is God clothed (Psalm 104:1-2)? What are like house and chariot for Him (Psalm 104:2-3)? What was the Lord’s part in creation (Psalm 104:5)? In the flood (Psalm 104:6)? In the restoration (Psalm 104:7-9)? What has the Lord done for His various creatures, according to Psalm 104:10-14 and Psalm 104:16-22? What three things did God invent/create for man, and for what purposes (Psalm 104:15)? What does man spend his day doing (Psalm 104:23)? How does God’s work compare (Psalm 104:24-26)? For what do all creatures depend upon the Lord in Psalm 104:27-28? For what do they depend upon Him in Psalm 104:29-30? What belongs to the Lord in Psalm 104:31a? In verse 31b? How do Psalm 104:33-34 correspond to that? Comparing Psalm 104:32 and Psalm 104:35a, what do those verses show about God? With their placement in the middle of delighting in God and glorifying Him, how are we to respond to these truths about the Lord?
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin, came from Psalm 104. This Psalm puts God in His place. It praises Him as the Creator of an amazing world with amazing variety. It praises Him as the One who sustains all of His creatures from the smallest to the largest, from the least intelligent to man, from the defenseless to the powerful. It praises Him as the One who continuously rules and overrules everything according to His sovereign will.

Man works hard to grow and process wine, and oil, and grain. But it is the Lord who invested these with the ability to gladden man, and give him strength and health. Our ability to work and produce and enjoy are all great privileges, because they are ways that God has permitted us to imitate Him in the creation.

But that’s just the point: even with all of our privileges, we are creatures. He is the Creator. Let us also imitate His generosity, His tender care. Generosity and kindness are becoming to those created in the image of such a Lord as we know and worship.

Still, let us not miss that the Lord saved the first half of Psalm 104:35 for the final thing for which to praise the Lord: His wrath and justice. With a Lord so glorious, it is the greatest of evils to fail to praise Him, let alone even to rebel against Him! Therefore, it is one of His great glories that He does not leave this unpunished.

As we obey the command at the beginning and end of this Psalm, to bless the Lord and praise Him with our whole soul, let us recognize the One in whom all of these meet: His generosity, His love, His power, His justice, His wrath—all are best seen in the cross of Christ!
For which of the God’s attributes, do you most need to increase appreciation? How will you? 
Suggested songs: ARP104C “The Trees of the Lord” or TPH219 “O Worship the King”

Monday, July 15, 2019

2019.07.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 14:17-24

Questions for Littles: Who went out to meet Abram in Genesis 14:17? After what did he go out to meet him? Who interrupts this meeting in Genesis 14:18? Of where (what) is he king (cf. Hebrews 7:2)? What does He bring Abram? What else is He, in addition to a king? What does He do to Abram (Genesis 14:19)? What does He call God? What does He say that God possess? Whom does He bless in Genesis 14:20? For what reason? What does Abram give to Melchizedek? Who finally speaks in Genesis 14:21? What does he offer? What does Abram say he has done in Genesis 14:22? In Genesis 14:23, what does he say that he has determined not to do? Why not? What does he accept to receive in Genesis 14:24, and for whom?    
It would have been understandable for Abram to feel exhausted and more than a little deserving of the plunder of war. He had risked his own men, marching them 110 miles up to Dan, winning the battle and then pursuing another 40 miles to Damascus. But, as he ends up saying in Genesis 14:23, this would put him at risk of having the king of Sodom say, “I have made Abram rich.” So, Abram needs help to make a bold and courageous stand—not only willing to trust the Lord for taking care of him, but even willing to risk offending the five-king-coalition whom he had just liberated.

What does the Lord do for His servant to prepare him to take such a stand and such a risk? God presents Himself to Abram as his Prophet, Priest, and King in the Person of Melchizedek.

Abram needed a Prophet to teach him both theology (Yahweh is God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, Genesis 14:22) and the application of that theology (he who has Yahweh must not indebt himself to the wicked for help or gifts, verse 23).

You can see that he learned these things directly from Melchizedek. It’s Melchizedek that has just taught him that his blessing is from God (Genesis 14:19). That this God is rightly called “God Most High.” That this God is the “Possessor of heaven and earth.”

Abram also needed a Priest to minister to him the reality of his covenant fellowship and favor with God. In Genesis 14:18, Melchizedek brings him bread and wine, but this isn’t just refreshments for understandably famished Abram and his troops. In fact, the refreshments have largely been taken from slaughter among the plunder. He says as much in Genesis 14:24 when he refers to “what the young men have eaten.”

Genesis 14:18 finishes the thought about the bread and wine by explaining that Melchizedek presented it as “the priest of God Most High.” Breaking bread is an indication of the benefits of a covenant—a fellowship in mutual benefit when it is among men, but in this case a picture of how all of Abram’s blessings come from God Most High. And a covenant cup is an indication of the bond of a covenant—that one’s gladness will be the other’s gladness, that one’s strength will be the other’s strength, that one’s health will be the other’s health.

In his role as Priest, Melchizedek acts as a go-between, a Mediator, for God and Abram. He presents to Abram the benefits of the covenant in the bread, and the bond of the covenant in the wine, and pronounces upon Abram the blessing of the covenant. He even receives from Abram, on behalf of God, a tithe that can only belong to God. For, since Abram recognizes in Genesis 14:23 that the plunder rightly belongs to the king of Sodom, humanly speaking, his willingness to give 1/10 of it to Melchizedek implies a recognition that Melchizedek stands in the place of God to Him.

Finally, Abram needed a King. One who could deliver him. One to whom he would submit. And that is exactly what Melchizedek is. His name King of Righteousness, and He is also called King of Peace. This is in stark contrast to the many other kings in this chapter—all of whom are kings of wickedness and of war. Will Bera be Abram’s king? God forbid! God Himself, who delivers Abram’s enemies into his hands, is Abram’s king.

We have already seen that Abram recognized that Melchizedek represented God to him. When we consider Psalm 110 and Hebrews chapters 1, 5, and 6, we realize that Melchizedek is very specifically a pre-incarnation appearance of God the Son, looking forward to when He would become a true Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. Ultimately, this is what Abram needed most of all: to know Christ Himself as his Prophet, Priest, and King.

And that’s what you need too. To know Christ as your Prophet, who teaches you all truth by the Scriptures, and what responses you are to make to that truth. To know Christ as your Priest—the go-between who Mediates for you the benefits, bond, and blessings of being in covenant with God. To know Christ as your King—who both defeats all of your and His enemies, and to Whom you are subject in glad, whole-hearted obedience!
How do you respond to Christ as your Prophet? As your Priest? As your King?
Suggested Songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken” or TPH280 “Wondrous King, All-Glorious”

Saturday, July 13, 2019

2019.07.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 14:17-24

Questions for Littles: Who went out to meet Abram in Genesis 14:17? After what did he go out to meet him? Who interrupts this meeting in Genesis 14:18? Of where (what) is he king (cf. Hebrews 7:2)? What does He bring Abram? What else is He, in addition to a king? What does He do to Abram (Genesis 14:19)? What does He call God? What does He say that God possess? Whom does He bless in Genesis 14:20? For what reason? What does Abram give to Melchizedek? Who finally speaks in Genesis 14:21? What does he offer? What does Abram say he has done in Genesis 14:22? In Genesis 14:23, what does he say that he has determined not to do? Why not? What does he accept to receive in Genesis 14:24, and for whom?
With the help of the book of Hebrews, we learn to be amazed at Melchizedek, whose name means “King of Righteousness.” He is also the king of Salem, which means “peace.” These are pretty amazing titles to find in a chapter that has been full of wickedness and war.

Hebrews teaches us to marvel at the fact that he appears out of thin air. So far in Genesis, everything has been about covenant lines—tracing the Seed through generations. But Melchizedek appears with no line whatsoever.

Then, we are also to marvel at the greatness of the man. It is the greater who blesses the lesser, and he is the one who blesses Abram. It is the greater who receives the tithe from the lesser, and Melchizedek receives the tithe from Abram.

So, here is a very great King, who is also Priest of God Most High. As Priest, he feeds Abram bread and wine in connection with a priestly blessing.

And, Melchizedek is also a Prophet. He appears as an interruption to the encounter with the king of Sodom. When we compare Melchizedek’s words in Genesis 14:19-20 to Abram’s words in Genesis 14:22-23, we recognize where it is that Abram has gotten these ideas.

This, ultimately, may be the most stunning display of Melchizedek’s greatness. So far, Yahweh Himself has been Abram’s theological instructor. Now, this Melchizedek who has appeared out of nowhere has that role which to this point has been reserved for Yahweh!

So, who is the King of Righteousness, the King of Peace—the Prophet, Priest, and King, who is greater than Abram, a Mediator between God and man, and a Prophet who speaks in the place of Yahweh? It is none other than Christ Himself. It is a reminder that as we read this section of Genesis, yes we are to appreciate Abram. But, we are to do so not on our knees before Abram, but alongside him, as together we worship the Lord Jesus Christ!
How is Christ your Prophet? How is Christ your Priest? How is Christ your King?
Suggested Songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken” or TPH280 “Wondrous King, All-Glorious”

Friday, July 12, 2019

2019.07.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 14:22-31

Questions for Littles: What does the other Judas (not Iscariot) ask Jesus in John 14:22? What does Jesus say that the person who loves Him will do (John 14:23)? And what will the Father do for him? And what will the Father and the Son do to him? What does the person who does not love Jesus also not do (John 14:24)? Whom is such a person rejecting? When has Jesus spoken these things (John 14:25)? Whose ministry will it be to teach the words that Jesus-lovers keep (John 14:26)? What does Jesus leave with them and give them in John 14:27? To whose giving is Jesus’s giving not at all similar? What does He say not to do with our hearts? How does He say they should respond to His departure if they love Him (John 14:28)? Why? When has He told them (John 14:29a)? Why (verse 29b)? What will Jesus not do much more of right now (John 14:30)? Who else does He say will believe because He does this (John 14:31)?
The theme of this passage is comparison between the apostles and the world.

Jesus is going to show Himself to the disciples, but not to the world. This is the original saying that troubles the other Judas.

Jesus points out that this is because the disciples love Him, but the world does not. The ability to see Jesus is a function of loving Jesus.

Jesus also says that this is because the disciples keep His Word, but the world does not. The ability to see Jesus is a function of keeping His Word. Seeing Jesus comes in large measure by holding to what He says.

Christ goes on to talk about the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Receiving Jesus is receiving the Father (John 14:23-24), but receiving both Jesus and the Father by means of the Word comes by receiving the Spirit, who is the One who teaches them in Jesus’s absence (John 14:25-26).

The world cannot give anything lasting or ultimately effective. But Jesus does not give that which is from the world. He gives Himself, His Father, and His Spirit—that which is eternal and omnipotent. And what does He give so perfectly lastingly and effectively? His peace.

Now that Jesus has said this, when the day of Pentecost arrives, and the promised Spirit comes, they will know and remember that Father, Son, and Spirit are all One. And they will know that they have fellowship with and power from the Triune God—this wonderful thing that Jesus calls His peace.
Who enables you to hear and believe in Jesus? Whom do you have if you do so?
Suggested songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken” or TPH212 “Come, Thou Almighty King”

Thursday, July 11, 2019

2019.07.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 13:11-14

Questions for Littles: What does the apostle begin by saying in 2 Corinthians 13:11? What does the apostle tell them to become? What three things does he tell them to do? What will be with them as they do this? How does he tell them to greet one another (2 Corinthians 13:12)? Who greet them (2 Corinthians 13:13)? With what three things does he bless them in 2 Corinthians 13:14?
For someone who has just pleaded with them that he not have to come in sharpness to make a painful visit, the apostle’s closing to this letter is very affectionate. He calls them brethren. He reminds them of his stated goal for them from the end of 2 Corinthians 13:9—that they would come to be everything that Christ has called them to be. It is not his own honor at which he aims but theirs.

The word that is translated “comfort” in 2 Corinthians 13:11 is that ‘parakaleo’ word that we hear so much about. He is encouraging them that in the Spirit, in the Word, and in the Lord’s ministry to them through each other, they have called-alongside-them all that they need in order to arrive at this completion.

Of course, if we are to be used in this way in one another’s lives, we cannot be in continual disagreement on important things. As elsewhere in Scripture (and especially in the Corinthian letters), the apostle calls us here to be of one mind. To think the same things. Theological diversity is never praised in the Bible. Unity is attained by the perfecting of each one’s doctrine according to Scripture.

Yet, we know that if we all have doctrinal precision, this is not the same as having ‘good’ doctrine. For, the Bible presents itself as a book not just to be believed but especially to be lived. They are not only to be of one mind, but as each practices what they learn from Scripture, they are to live in peace.

How is it possible for a sinful church like Corinth to do this? Their wickedness is not so great as God’s love. Their tendency for strife is not so great as God’s peace. Ultimately, this is one of those arenas of grace—opportunities for His strength to be displayed in the midst of our weakness. It is God’s love and God’s peace that will be with them.

And that which they are to have with one another in their local congregation (2 Corinthians 13:12), they are to enjoy and extend to all the congregations of Christ’s church (2 Corinthians 13:13). Indeed, our fellowship is not only with one another; it is with the triune God. Upon His grace, it all rests. From His love, it all came. And in fellowship with Him, it is all done. Amen!
How are you being prepared for glory? Becoming of one mind with others of comprehensively Scriptural doctrine? Expressing and enjoying love and unity with other believers?
Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

2019.07.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Judges 8:1-21

Questions for Littles: Who start and argument with Gideon and reprimand him sharply (Judges 8:1-3)? Who are unwilling to help him, because they don’t think he will win (Judges 8:4-7)? Who else treat him the same way (Judges 8:8-9)? How many of the enemy were left (Judges 8:10)? How many had fallen? How does Gideon choose the timing of his attack (Judges 8:11)? What is the success of his attack (Judges 8:12)? Whom does he then turn around and attack (Judges 8:13-17)? Whom does it turn out that Zebah and Zalmunna have killed (Judges 8:18-19)? Who refuses the command to execute justice on them (Judges 8:20)? Who has to do it himself (Judges 8:21)? 
It has often been the case among Christ’s people that those whom He raises up to defend them from external enemies end up having to fight enemies among the people of God. Jesus warned the disciples that it would be like this. Paul warned the Ephesian elders that it would be like this. And it was not a new thing at their time.

In this passage, Gideon has won a great victory, and now the Ephraimites want to attack him for not sharing the glory. He gets out of it by arguing that their glory is greater than his. Sometimes, God’s people attack out of pride.

Then there are the men of Succoth and the men of Penuel. Even when it is obvious that no one can ultimately defeat the Lord, there are always those among the people of God who harbor the secret suspicion that the Lord will lose. Sometimes, God’s people attack out of fear.

And sometimes, it’s not so much an attack as it is a sad disappointment from someone close to you. In this case, it’s even his firstborn son, who is just too timid to put his hand to the admittedly hard—but guaranteed—task before him in the service of the Lord.

As is often the case, this adds insult to injury in Judges 8:21, for the Z brothers take the opportunity to mock Gideon one last time before they meet the sword of justice.

God tells us ahead of time that His people will disappoint us so that we do not project our disappointment onto Him when they do. And, rather than desire status among them or security from their approval, we learn to rest in Him not in His people.
Who has disappointed you in the church? How have you turned to rest in the Lord instead of them?
Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge” or TPH46C “God Is Our Refuge”

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

2019.07.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 103:1-5

Questions for Littles: What or whom is the Psalmist commanding to bless the Lord (Psalm 103:1)? With how much of what is within him is he to obey this command? How many times does he give himself this command (Psalm 103:2a)? What is he not to forget (verse 2b)? What is the first benefit not to forgive (Psalm 103:3a)? What is the second (verse 3b)? The third (Psalm 103:4a)? The fourth (verse 4b)? What is one of the tender mercies of God (Psalm 103:5a)? What effect does it have (verse 5b)? 
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin, came from Psalm 103.

In this passage, the Psalmist teaches and models for us proper self-talk, as he does elsewhere in the psalter (cf. Psalms 42-43). And one of the most important things to tell ourselves is to remember to give praise and thanks to God with our whole being!

Of course, God is worthy of all praise, just because He is God. But that is not the only reason that He has given to us for praising Him. He does much to us and for us that is useful to our souls in stirring up praise unto Him.

The first and greatest benefit of God is the forgiveness of all of our sins. What use could anything else be without forgiveness?

But this is followed immediately by His healing all of our diseases, all of our sicknesses. We are, after all, both body and soul. And the Lord takes complete care of both. Just as many of our sins as He has forgiven, so also that many of our diseases He heals.

Those who promise the “health and wealth” gospel do not promise too much. They promise too little. They promise something that will again be taken away when the time comes for us to die. That is so much smaller than the disease-healing that is actually promised in the gospel.

Every believer in Jesus Christ must necessarily be resurrected in order to enjoy and praise the Lord, both body and soul, forever and ever. There is not a single disease or sickness in that comes into the life of a believer except that it is the Lord’s plan that it end not in death but in resurrection!

Truly, then, does Psalm 103:4 say, “who redeems your life from destruction.” This is both destruction in the ultimate sense (the Lord has redeemed us from death and Hell), and also in a current and ongoing sense. The Lord grants unto us to live in love and service to Him, and He is pleased to make us agents not of destruction but of blessing to others around us and even to the glory of His Name.

Every day, God pours out upon us His lovingkindness (covenant love) and tender mercies. Indeed, every meal that we eat, and every time we feel physically refreshed, it is one more installment of those love-gifts that stream continuously from that same love by which we are forgiven and shall at last be resurrected.

Let us learn to remember ALL of His benefits, so that we will continuously rest in and rejoice over His covenant love to us… so that we will bless His holy Name with our whole soul!
What opportunities do you have to remember the Lord’s benefits and bless His Name?
Suggested songs: ARP103B “O, Bless the Lord, My Soul” or TPH216 “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”

Monday, July 8, 2019

2019.07.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 14:1-16

Questions for Littles: Which kings, of which nations, were on Chedorlaomer’s side (Genesis 14:1)? Which kings, of which nations, were on Sodom’s side (Genesis 14:2)? Where did the Sodom coalition join together (Genesis 14:3)? For how many years had they been enslaved (Genesis 14:4)? What did they do in the thirteenth year? What happened in the 14th year (Genesis 14:5)—which people, and where, did the Chedorlaomer coalition attack (Genesis 14:5-7)? Which coalition initiated the battle in Genesis 14:8? What point does Genesis 14:9 make about the numbers? What did the Sodom coalition end up doing in Genesis 14:10? What did the Chedorlaomer coalition do in Genesis 14:11? Whom does Genesis 14:12 mention in connection with this? Where had he been living? What had the “reporter” in Genesis 14:13 providentially been able to do? To whom did he report? Where was Abram staying? What allies did he have? How many men did Abram arm in Genesis 14:14? What else had been done for them? How far did they pursue? What did Abram do with his forces at the beginning of Genesis 14:15? At what time of day? What did they do? How far did they pursue them? What did Abram bring back (Genesis 14:16)? Whom, specifically, did Abram bring back? Whom else did Abram bring back?    
The earth is full of violence. The news is full of it. Nation against nation, kingdom against kingdom, and within each nation there are the many wicked who prey upon the weak around them. We know what this deserves. We saw it in the flood: the wrath of God.

Yet, this is not the ultimate plan and response of God to this wickedness. He is just, and will punish. But He is also merciful. He has promised a Seed of the woman, who will crush the serpent’s head. He has promised that in Abram, all of the families of the earth will be blessed—that Abram will have a Seed who inherits all that is currently in the possession of the wicked.

With that in mind, we watch with interest as the world war in Genesis 14 unfolds. What will Abram do about all this? How will he be a blessing to those who are being defeated and taken captive?

Abram is a picture of Christ to us, as he leaps into action on behalf of Lot. His intervention is especially focused upon the one who uniquely belongs to him. In the same way, the Lord Jesus always acts in history with a view toward His church. Nations rise and fall, and many benefit from Christ’s action, but the aim is especially at the ultimate salvation and glorification of the people who are His by loving choice since before time began.

This is Abram’s ultimate role: to be an ancestor of Christ. But his proximate role—that part that God has given him to play in the day-to-day of his life—is to do whatever good he is enabled to do within the national and family connections in which God has placed him.

To that end, the 318 fighting-aged men who were born in his house, he has trained. And he has amassed enough arms to equip them all on a moment’s notice. Here is a man whose hope is in what Christ would ultimately do, and for whom worship was so central to his household’s life that their time in a particular location can be summarized as worshiping there. But he is not ignoring ordinary, physical necessities and duties. God is his strength, but he is zealous to be prepared and to employ means, effort, and strategy.

Ultimately, this too is a picture of Christ unto us, isn’t it? He has gone to the cross. He has borne the wrath for our sin. He has risen from the dead. He intercedes for us. One day, He will return and raise us up by His own resurrection power. But, it is also He who rules and overrules all things for our good. Even the most mundane things. And so, as we trust in Him and follow Him, we seek both to prepare for eternal glory and also to serve and enjoy Him in all of the day-to-day details of our lives. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they are the people of the Prince of Peace!
Out of what difficulty is Christ currently saving you? Whom may you help in imitation of Him?
Suggested Songs: ARP146 “Praise the Lord” or TPH146 “Praise the Lord! My Soul, O Praise Him!”

Saturday, July 6, 2019

2019.07.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 14:1-16

Questions for Littles: Which kings, of which nations, were on Chedorlaomer’s side (Genesis 14:1)? Which kings, of which nations, were on Sodom’s side (Genesis 14:2)? Where did the Sodom coalition join together (Genesis 14:3)? For how many years had they been enslaved (Genesis 14:4)? What did they do in the thirteenth year? What happened in the 14th year (Genesis 14:5)—which people, and where, did the Chedorlaomer coalition attack (Genesis 14:5-7)? Which coalition initiated the battle in Genesis 14:8? What point does Genesis 14:9 make about the numbers? What did the Sodom coalition end up doing in Genesis 14:10? What did the Chedorlaomer coalition do in Genesis 14:11? Whom does Genesis 14:12 mention in connection with this? Where had he been living? What had the “reporter” in Genesis 14:13 providentially been able to do? To whom did he report? Where was Abram staying? What allies did he have? How many men did Abram arm in Genesis 14:14? What else had been done for them? How far did they pursue? What did Abram do with his forces at the beginning of Genesis 14:15? At what time of day? What did they do? How far did they pursue them? What did Abram bring back (Genesis 14:16)? Whom, specifically, did Abram bring back? Whom else did Abram bring back? 
It’s easy to write someone off for his poor choices. Certainly Abram could have done that. Lot had chosen to separate. Lot had chosen to pitch his tent toward Sodom. Lot had ended up living in Sodom. Why would Abram risk himself and all that he had to bail Lot out now?

The first reason is that Lot was Abram’s dead brother’s son (Genesis 14:12). There is a principle that runs throughout the Bible of an increased duty toward our near relatives. 1 Timothy 5 even tells the church not to help widows whose families can do it instead. It’s not a recent phenomenon for family to be neglectful of one another, but churches and governments are encouraging this neglect by stepping in uncarefully and letting them off easy. Abram helps Lot because he’s family.

A second reason for Abram to help Lot is that Abram is a Hebrew. In Canaan, he sticks out like a sore thumb. Others know that he is different. And he builds these altars everywhere that he goes. What God’s people do will reflect directly upon their God. Abram helps Lot because his life is a testimony.

A third reason for Abram to take such a risk is that he is immortal until his work is done. This is true for all of us, but especially for Abram. In Abram, all the families of the earth will be blessed. The Lord must preserve him, because the Lord will surely keep His promise. Of course, this cannot excuse recklessness, but Abram is not reckless. Not only does he have 318 men who have been brought up in his house, but he has ensured ahead of time that they are armed and trained. He devises clever and effective tactics. He has prepared for such eventualities. Abram helps Lot, because He trusts in God and has prepared to serve Him in ways like this.

Furthermore, Abram helps Lot because the Lord has brought him into this situation precisely to glorify Himself as the God who is mighty among His people. After the Chedorlaomer coalition has defeated many individual kingdoms, and then the entire Sodom coalition, they are still no match for Abram. Why? Because the Lord is with him. God’s people never need fear doing what is right. The Lord is both good and great, and is pleased to display this in their lives.

Finally, Abram helps Lot, and even saves the Sodom coalition, because he is a type (forerunner/ foreshadowing) of Christ. Christ, the seed of Abram,  will be the ultimate One who saves those who deserve exactly the opposite. Praise be to God!
In what situation would doing right come at great cost and risk to you?
Suggested Songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH2B “Why Do Heathen Nations Rage?”

Friday, July 5, 2019

2019.07.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 14:15-21

Questions for Littles: Upon what condition does the command in John 14:15 depend? What is the command for those who do love Jesus? What will Jesus do for those who love Him and keep His commandments (John 14:16)? What will the Father do? What will the Helper do—how long will He abide with Jesus’s disciples? What name is the Helper given in John 14:17? Who cannot receive Him? What two other things can the world not do with the Spirit? Who do know Him already in verse 17? With whom does the Spirit already dwell when Jesus says this? In whom would He later be? In what condition will Jesus not leave the disciples (John 14:18)? What will He do in the giving of the Spirit? Who will not see Jesus once Jesus is gone (John 14:19)? Who will still see Jesus? What will the connection be between their life and Jesus’s life? What will they know about Jesus and His Father in that day (John 14:20)? What will they know about themselves and Christ? What two evidences does John 14:21 give for recognizing whom they are who love Jesus? What will the Father do for the one who loves Jesus? What two things will Jesus do.
Lovers of Christ receive the greatest gift: Christ Himself and, through Him, the fellowship of the Triune God. This is why we keep His commandments. Because the commandments are His, and we love Him. But the disciples (like we) are weak and foolish and sinful. How are they going to be able to love Jesus?

Because the Father has loved them and sent them His Son in the first place. “We love Him because He first loved us.” The Father has already sent them one “Helper”—literally “one called alongside”… a fuller translation could be “Mentor.” And the Father has sent His Son to be that for them. What now that Jesus is leaving?

Jesus is leaving, but He’s not forgetting them. He’s mediating at the right hand of the Father, always living to intercede for them. And a big part of that intercession is His praying for the Spirit’s ministry. The Father loves us and sent His Son. The Son loves us and prays the Father for the Spirit, who comes as another Mentor (John 14:16).

And the Spirit loves us. Jesus says that He will abide with them forever. Then Jesus says something interesting in John 14:17: “you know Him for He dwells with you” (present tense!), “and will be in you” (future tense). How is it that they already know Him? How is it that He already dwells with them? It’s because the Father, Son, and Spirit are One.

This is what Jesus means by “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18). This isn’t about the second coming. At the second coming, the whole world will see Jesus, but John 14:19-20 tells us that Jesus is talking about the disciples seeing Him when the world can’t—seeing Him because He is their life in a way that He is not for others. This is not a seeing with eyeballs of the flesh but a seeing that is by faith. This is what Jesus means by “manifest Myself.” His Spirit will enable us to know Him by faith.

This is why the doctrine of the Trinity is so precious to us. It is central to Jesus’s love-gift of Himself to those that love Him. It’s not clever theologizing for people to feel superior. It’s the reality of Jesus with us by His Spirit in us: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit loving us now and forever!
How does an improved understanding of the Spirit’s ministry to you make Him more precious to you?
Suggested songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken to My Lord” or TPH212 “Come, Thou Almighty King”

Thursday, July 4, 2019

2019.07.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 13:7-10

Questions for Littles: Whom does the apostle ask for the Corinthians to do no evil (2 Corinthians 13:7)? What is not the reason for this? What is the reason for this? What is the apostle willing to have happen to himself in order that the Corinthians would do what is good? What can the apostolic ministers do nothing against but only for (2 Corinthians 13:8)? When are the apostolic ministers glad (2 Corinthians 13:9a)? What else do they pray (verse 9b)? When does the apostle write these things (2 Corinthians 13:10a)? What does he not want to do when present (verse 10b)? Who has given him authority? For what is this authority? For what isn’t it?
From Whom does believers’ resistance to sin come? Not from themselves but from God. The apostle is no believer in a libertine free-will over which God refuses to be sovereign. He prays to God for what he wants the Corinthians to choose: “I pray to God that you do no evil.”

There’s always the temptation to want those under our leadership to do well so that they will make us look good. But, the apostle asserts that this is not what is going on. In 2 Corinthians 13:5-6, he’s been discussing “passing the test” of genuineness. But he actually doesn’t care so much for his own appearing genuine as he does for the Corinthians’ actually being genuine.

“It’s ok with me if we look bad,” he says, “just so long as you are actually doing good!” Why? Because the truth prevails. Nothing can be done against it.

In fact, 2 Corinthians 13:9, the apostle is actually glad not only when the Corinthians are strong through being made adequate to pass the test, but in particular when he himself is weak. Why? Because then it is seen that all the strength and glory belong to the Lord (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:5-10).

So, the apostle does not wish to appear strong, like he has done something. To be sure, he will take strong action when he comes if he has to (2 Corinthians 13:10). The authority isn’t his, but Christ’s, and he must follow Christ. He doesn’t have the option of destroying them by going along with their sin.

But, if they respond to what is written while he is absent, then he can continue displaying himself in weakness (cf. 2 Corinthians 13:3-4), and all the strength behind their changing can be seen clearly as God’s alone!
In what situations are you in danger of appearing strong in your own strength? 
Suggested songs: ARP32A-B “What Blessedness” or TPH32B “How Blessed Is He Whose”

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

2019.07.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Judges 7

Read Judges 7
Questions for Littles: South of whom did Gideon and his men encamp in Judges 7:1? What was Yahweh’s complaint about Gideon’s men in Judges 7:2a? Of what does such a number put them in danger (verse 2b)? What is Gideon told to announce in Judges 7:3? How many leave and how many stay? What does Yahweh think of this number (Judges 7:4)? Where does He tell Gideon to bring them? Who will choose who stays and who goes? Into what two groups does Yahweh say to divide them (Judges 7:5)? How many lap the water like a dog (Judges 7:6)? How many would that have left in the other group? Which group does Yahweh choose (Judges 7:7)? Whom does He say will do the saving? What did these three hundred bring with them (Judges 7:8)? Where was the Midianite camp? What does Yahweh tell Gideon to do in Judges 7:9? What additional option does he give him in Judges 7:10-11a? Which option does Gideon choose (verse 11b)? How many soldiers were in the Midianite camp (Judges 7:12)? What destroyed the tent of men in the dream that Gideon overheard in Judges 7:13? What does the other guy say about this in Judges 7:14? What is the first thing that Gideon does when he hears this (Judges 7:15)? Then what does he tell the camp of Israel? Into how many companies does Gideon divide his men (Judges 7:16)? What does he put into every man’s hands? What does he tell them to do (Judges 7:17)? What are they all going to do (Judges 7:18)? Whose sword does Gideon tell them to shout about? What did Gideon and his 100 men do in Judges 7:19? What do all three companies do (Judges 7:20)? How does the Midianite camp respond (Judges 7:21)? How many of them respond this way? What does Yahweh cause them to do to one another (Judges 7:22)? Who gather in Judges 7:23? What do they do? Whom does Gideon send into all the mountains of Ephraim (Judges 7:24)? Why were they in the mountains (cf. Judges 6:2)? Whom do they capture in Judges 7:25? What do they do with their heads?
God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. That is to say that God’s strength expresses itself most clearly and displays itself most spectacularly against the backdrop of our weakness.

The big story of Judges 7 is that God intentionally chose to save by a weak contingent and a weak leader, in order that it would be plain that all of the strength was His own.

Against an army that numbered as the sand on the seashore (Judges 7:12), Gideon had only mustered 32,000, but this was still too many. Yahweh’s supervised enforcement of Deuteronomy 20:8 cuts it down to 10,000, but that’s still too many. The Lord splits them into a group of 9,700 and a group of 300; and, God chooses the group of 300.

But it’s not just the mustering numbers that are weak. It is Gideon himself. Notice in Judges 7:9 that the Lord tells Gideon to go ahead and attack, because He has delivered the Midianite camp into his hand. Then, He does something curious. He offers Gideon a “fleece” (to borrow language from Gideon’s already-demonstrated, wishy-washy unbelief in Judges 6:36-40). “If you are afraid…,” God says.

And of course, Gideon is afraid! The Lord stoops down to Gideon’s weakness, and Gideon jumps at the chance. It turns out that, by all rights, Gideon should have gone home with the 22,000. God is patient and forbearing with His fickle and unbelieving servant.

This is what makes Judges 7:20 so offensive. Yahweh had said that the number reduction was “lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me by saying, ‘my own hand has saved me’” (Judges 7:2). And fearful fleece-man Gideon has the army shout, “A sword for Yahweh and for Gideon!” He quite literally puts himself in the same sentence as Yahweh.

When we come to a passage like this, we need to see the great power of our God, how easily He can save by many or by few. But we also need to see the great danger of our pride—how prone we are to adding ourselves in with Him as recipients of some of the credit. Let us resolve ourselves against this and trust and praise God alone!
What situations of weakness has God given you to remind you to trust and praise Him alone?
Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge” or TPH46C “God Is Our Refuge”

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

2019.07.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 47

Read Psalm 47
Questions for Littles: To whose attention is this Psalm addressed? Who wrote it? For what purpose, then, do these things remind us that this Psalm was written? What two commands are given in Psalm 47:1? To whom does verse 1 address these commands? In what age would “all you peoples” be part of the church? What about Yahweh’s character is cause for this clapping and shouting (Psalm 47:2a)? What about Yahweh’s status is cause for this clapping and shouting (verse 2b)? Over whom is He King? What will Yahweh do to the peoples (the ones praising Him for doing it!) in relation to Israel (Psalm 47:3)? What will He choose for Israel (Psalm 47:4a)? What does verse 4b call that inheritance? What has God done in Psalm 47:5? With what sounds? How many times are we commanded to God’s praises in Psalm 47:6-7? Whose King is He in verse 6? Whose King is He in verse Psalm 47:8a? With what does verse 7 say to sing this praise? Where is God sitting (verse 8b)? Who are gathered in Psalm 47:9? Whose people are they? What does God call Himself in verse 9? Who is “the shields of the earth”? Who has lifted Himself up exceedingly? 
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin, came from Psalm 47. The Psalm is addressed to the Chief Musician, reminding us that it is to be sung under his leadership in the gathered worship of God’s people. So, it may seem strange at first that it is ALL peoples who are commanded to clap their hands and shout to God with the voice of triumph.

Triumph by all peoples? Aren’t these the same peoples who are “subdued under us” in Psalm 47:3? Aren’t these the nations that are “subdued under our feet”?

Well, just as Romans 9 teaches us that not all Israel is Israel, so there is also a sense in which not all the nations are the nations. There are those from every tongue, tribe, people, and nation who end up being inheritors with Jacob (Psalm 47:4). And there are those who end up subdued under the feet of the inheritors.

Notice what those inheritors are called in Psalm 47:9: “the people of the God of Abraham.” Either you are one who claps your hands over Abraham’s God, or you are under Abraham’s feet. Either you are one who shouts to Abraham’s God with triumph, or you are under Abraham’s feet. Either you rejoice that Yahweh is awesome, because He is both “great King over all the earth” (Psalm 47:2Psalm 47:9) and “our King” (Psalm 47:6), or you are under Abraham’s feet.

Either you are under Abraham’s feet, under the feet of all who inherit with Jacob, yes under the feet of Jesus Christ (cf. Ps 110); or, you sing praises, sing praises, sing praises, sing praises, sing praises (five times in Psalm 47:6-7)! In which group are you?
What place in your life do you give to singing God’s praise and learning His commands? At what times do you do these? How do they shape the rest of life?
Suggested songs: ARP47 “All Nations, Clap Your Hands” or TPH47A “O Clap Your Hands”

Monday, July 1, 2019

2019.07.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 13

Questions for Littles: Who left from where in Genesis 13:1? To what part of the promised land did they go? What was Abram’s financial condition (Genesis 13:2)? To where did he end up returning (Genesis 13:3)? What was in that place (Genesis 13:4)? What did Abram do there? Who went with Abram (Genesis 13:5)? What did he have? What problem did this create (Genesis 13:6-7)? Who initiates to stop the strife in Genesis 13:8? Who suggests that Lot get the first choice (Genesis 13:9)? What did Lot lift his eyes to see (Genesis 13:10)? What did he choose (Genesis 13:11)? Where did Abram dwell (Genesis 13:12a)? Where did Lot dwell (verse 12b)? Of what problem does Genesis 13:13 inform us? What (whom) does Abram have instead of fertile land (Genesis 13:14a)? What does Yahweh promise him (Genesis 13:14-17)? In Genesis 13:18, where does Abram go, and what does he do there?    
The second half of chapter 12 had gone poorly, as Abram stumbled spectacularly. But, God was patient with His servant. He has promised to bring the Savior into the world, and He has promised specifically that it would be through Abram that all of families of the earth will be blessed.

By Genesis 13:4, the Lord has brought Abram back not just to where he began physically (between Bethel and Ai) but spiritually (Abram called upon the name of Yahweh). And this was vital, because for the coming crisis, it was necessary for Abram to be convinced in his heart that the Lord is his great hope, and delight with his heart that the Lord is his great joy.

In the contrast between Abram and Lot here, we see several important factors. First, the foolishness of walking by appearances instead of promises. Lot “lifts up his eyes and sees” the riches but not the risks. Yes, it looks like Eden (Genesis 13:10), but it behaves like the serpent (Genesis 13:13). Fleshly eyes do not rightly assess the prospects of a situation.

Second, the freedom of walking by promises instead of appearances. Abram doesn’t need the well-irrigated land. He belongs to the God who provides and protects even in physical and spiritual drought. So, he does not press his interests. He is free by his faith to give Lot the pick of the land. How can we love our neighbor as ourselves? How can we even love our enemies, take no revenge of our own? How can we even be slow to speak or slow to become angry? Love to God is the Scriptural fuel for all of these, but faith in God is its foundation. We need not seek our own interests, because the Lord Himself is already doing so!

Third, the future of faith. Compare the promise in Genesis 13:15 to the one in  Genesis 12:7. The difference is that, here, Abram himself is included in this promise (even if he will have to rise again from the dead to receive it!—Hebrews 11:13-16). It’s not just his seed who will receive the land but Abram himself will receive it. Suddenly the tour in Genesis 13:17 is taking on two meanings. One, it’s a continual reminder of the greatness of the multitude of the seed promised in Genesis 13:16. Two, it’s a survey of what belongs to him.

Fourth, the feasting of worship. But what does faith receive now? Is Christianity really just pie in the sky, by and by? Absolutely not. Faith may have to wait to receive the fullness of what has been promised, but it already possesses something infinitely greater: we have Him who has promised it. Abram does NOT have to wait to come into the possession of his greatest inheritance. There he is, enjoying God Himself in worship in Genesis 13:18!
Which situations in your life appear worrisome to your flesh? What promises correct your vision of it? Which situations appear to your flesh to bring safety and happiness? Upon what promises do your peace and joy genuinely rest instead?
Suggested Songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH23A “The Lord’s My Shepherd”

Saturday, June 29, 2019

2019.06.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 13

Questions for Littles: Who left from where in Genesis 13:1? To what part of the promised land did they go? What was Abram’s financial condition (Genesis 13:2)? To where did he end up returning (Genesis 13:3)? What was in that place (Genesis 13:4)? What did Abram do there? Who went with Abram (Genesis 13:5)? What did he have? What problem did this create (Genesis 13:6-7)? Who initiates to stop the strife in Genesis 13:8? Who suggests that Lot get the first choice (Genesis 13:9)? What did Lot lift his eyes to see (Genesis 13:10)? What did he choose (Genesis 13:11)? Where did Abram dwell (Genesis 13:12a)? Where did Lot dwell (verse 12b)? Of what problem does Genesis 13:13 inform us? What (whom) does Abram have instead of fertile land (Genesis 13:14a)? What does Yahweh promise him (Genesis 13:14b-Genesis 13:17)? In Genesis 13:18, where does Abram go, and what does he do there? 
It’s one thing to rejoice over God’s gracious gifts to us. But how does the extent to which we cling to those things compare to the extent to which we cling to God? That’s the question that we get answered about Abram in this text. In Egypt, God had increased Abram’s wealth in livestock, silver, and gold. But, He had increased Abram’s wealth in something even more important: repentance from sin and faith toward God.

That’s the point of Genesis 13:4. Abram is back to the faith he had at the first. And Abram is back to the worship that he offered at first. And that’s going to serve him well, because he’s about to have strife with the only family that he has in the world. God’s good blessings cause a spiritual challenge in Genesis 13:6-7, but the stumbling of  Genesis 12:10-20 has receded back into the background. Abram doesn’t need his possessions, so long as he has his God. The Canaanites and Perizzites are still in the land. It’s not land-possession time yet. That’s for Abram’s seed, and he doesn’t yet have any.

So, by his faith in God’s taking care of him and God’s promises to him, Abram is freed to give Lot the choice of the “best” land. Lot makes a terrible choice on many counts. To keep multiplying his possessions, Lot is willing to pitch his tent as far as “exceedingly wicked and sinful” Sodom.

But that’s the lesser half of his folly. Lot’s own sin was enough already to sink him deeper than the grave, even if he never became associated with the people of that city. What he needed was the one in whom all the families of the earth would be blessed. What he needed was Christ. But he was willing to give up staying with Abram in order to feed his flocks better.

What are we willing to give up of our connection with Christ in order to (so we think) maintain or increase our prosperity in this life? How many of us skip personal worship or take a portion of the Lord’s Day for earthly priorities in order to enjoy a little more entertainment or work a little bit more to prosper ourselves? With whom are we willing to associate? What lies and exaggerations are we willing to tell, or truths are we willing to conceal? How much inconvenience is too much to participate more in the life of the church?

It was not technically wrong for Lot to pitch his tent in the Jordan valley. What was wrong was all the decision-making behind it. How often do we ignore the values behind our decision-making while carefully justifying our actions?

On the other side was Abram. It was ok for him to have the browner landscape, because he had God Himself. And he who has God has, literally, everything. Because everything in existence belongs to Him. And everything yet to exist. He makes promises about the future, because that belongs to Him too. Even seemingly impossible promises like innumerable descendants to a man with a barren wife.

But most of all, having God means having God Himself in Christ. Abram’s view of what he has is much greater at the altar in Genesis 13:18 than it was during the tour throughout the land. God has given Himself to sinners at the cost of the blood of a substitute!
What might change in your daily and weekly habits if the Lord Himself is your chief Blessing? 
Suggested Songs: ARP181 “God Our Only Good” or TPH73C “In Sweet Communion”

Friday, June 28, 2019

2019.06.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 14:8-14

Questions for Littles: Who speaks in John 14:8? What does he ask Jesus to show them? What is the first question that Jesus asks in response (John 14:9)? What is the second? What is the third (John 14:10a)? What is Jesus saying about Himself in all these questions? What does Jesus say about His words? What does He say about His works? What does Jesus command them to believe in John 14:11? What have demonstrated this truth? What does Jesus say will be done by those who believe in Him (John 14:12)? Why will they be able to do this? Whom will they ask in Whose Name (John 14:13-14)? Who will answer this request (verses 13 and 14)? Why will He answer (verse 13)?
Jesus is the full revelation of God. There’s nothing more of God to see than can be seen in Jesus. That’s the point that He makes to Philip.

But it’s not just His words to Philip. Jesus says that His being in the Father and the Father’s being in Him has been the point of all of His words (John 14:10a). He has never spoken anything by Himself. And Jesus’s identity with the Father has also been the point of all of His works (John 14:10b through John 14:11).

Jesus is in the Father, and the Father is in Jesus. One of the great points of the gospel has been the revelation of the Trinity.

This is also the point of prayer. We ask God for things in prayer. And Jesus makes it clear in John 14:13 and John 14:14 that we are to ask in His Name. What does this mean?

Well, in the first place, it means that we prioritize Jesus’s priorities. John 14:12 tells us that this means to do greater works than He did in His earthly ministry. But this comes in the context of John 14:10-11, doesn’t it? What was the point of the works? To show that Jesus is in the Father, and the Father is in Jesus! The truth of the matter is that by the end of Jesus’s ministry, very few understood or believed that about Him. But through the ministry of the weak apostles, an innumerable multitude would in fact come to understand Jesus that way and believe in Him as God!

The second thing that it means to ask in Jesus’s Name is to believe that Jesus Himself is the One who answers. “I will do it,” Jesus says in John 14:13. Again in John 14:14, Jesus says, “I will do it.” When we ask God in Jesus’s Name, we are expecting that Jesus is the God who answers! This is the ultimate exercise of faith in Jesus as the One who is one with the Father.
Whom do you hope will come to know Jesus as God? How does that shape your praying “in His Name”? Whom are you expecting to answer those prayers?
Suggested songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken to My Lord” or TPH270 “At the Name of Jesus”

Thursday, June 27, 2019

2019.06.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 13:1-6

Questions for Littles: How many times has Paul been to Corinth (2 Corinthians 13:1)? What does he tell them about resolving the discipline cases that he plans to address? What will he not do, this time around, when he comes (2 Corinthians 13:2)? Of what were they seeking proof (2 Corinthians 13:3)? What did they think about Paul? What should they have thought about Christ instead? What happened to Christ in His weakness (2 Corinthians 13:4)? But what is His condition now? And what is the believer’s condition in this life? But what will their condition be in the future? How? What does the apostle tell them to do in 2 Corinthians 13:5? Of what are they looking for evidence? What would it mean if they don’t find any? What is he sure that they will know (2 Corinthians 13:6)? 
What difference does believing in the power of Christ make?

For one, it means taking sin seriously—both in the church (2 Corinthians 13:1) and in ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:2). The apostle insists that they proceed formally and judicially. Unrepented sin in the church demands formal discipline.

Just as before (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:1-6), the apostle reminds them that Christ has revealed the greatness of His power by what He has done in them (2 Corinthians 13:3-4). And, if He is so powerful, then we must not trifle with Him.

Sadly, there are many who never even consider whether there is evidence of their new life in Christ. If we confess that Christ is powerful, can we really be satisfied with completely unchanged lives?

But we have an apostolic command to assess and test ourselves. Some will speak against this. They think it is some kind of performance assessment. But it’s not performance that we are assessing, but reality. Not “how well are you doing for Christ,” but rather, “is Christ actually in you?”

If we don’t value Christ enough to care about the real answer to that question, then the temptation is to consider the one who calls us to task (or charges us with something before the church) as if they are claiming illegitimate authority. And, to be sure, there are people who really do abuse their authority in the church. But the apostle makes it clear here that there is also legitimate authority in the church—not just his own, but others’: “you will know that we are not illegitimate.”

This, then, is one of the purposes for which the Lord Jesus has established legitimate authority, discipline, and judicial process in His church. Christ is a legitimate Savior, who makes a legitimate difference in those whom He saves, and He wants us to know whether or not we are legitimate Christians!
When and how do you examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith?
Suggested songs: ARP32A-B “What Blessedness” or TPH32B “How Blessed Is He Whose”

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

2019.06.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Judges 6

Read Judges 6
Questions for Littles: What did the children of Israel do in Judges 6:1? How did the Lord respond? What was the oppression of the Midianites and Amalekites like (Judges 6:2-6)? What does the Lord first send in response to Israel’s crying out (Judges 6:7-10)? What was Gideon doing in the winepress and why (Judges 6:11)? Who appeared to him (Judges 6:11-12)? What did He tell Gideon? How does Gideon respond (Judges 6:13)? Whom do Judges 6:14 and Judges 6:16 identify as the Angel of the Lord? How does the Lord answer Gideon’s complaint (Judges 6:14)? And what is Gideon’s response (Judges 6:15)? What is the Lord’s answer to this second complaint (Judges 6:16)? What does Gideon ask for in Judges 6:17? What does he propose to do in Judges 6:18? What does Gideon do in Judges 6:19-20? How does the “Angel” receive the sacrifice (Judges 6:21)? Then what does He do? What does Gideon do when he realizes what has just happened (Judges 6:22)? Of what does the Lord then assure him (Judges 6:23)? What does Gideon finally build in Judges 6:24? What two things does the Lord tell Gideon to tear down in Judges 6:25? What does He tell him to build in Judges 6:26? How many men does Gideon take just to do this (Judges 6:27)? What does he still do out of fear? How do the men of the city respond in the morning (Judges 6:28-30)? Who has to stick up for Gideon against them (Judges 6:31-32)? What does Gideon’s dad say? Who gathered in Judges 6:33? Who came upon Gideon in Judges 6:34? Who gathered to him (Judges 6:34-35)? Even after this, what does Gideon ask in Judges 6:36-37? What does God do (Judges 6:38)? What does Gideon still ask, even after this (Judges 6:39)? What does God do (Judges 6:40)?
“You have not obeyed my voice.” The Lord flat out tells them why all this is coming upon them in Judges 6:10. We would not be out of line to expect total destruction to fall upon them for that.

Instead, the Angel of Yahweh (who also turns out to be Yahweh Himself) shows up to appoint a rather reluctant savior. Gideon’s hospitable, at first, but not believing or worshipful. It isn’t until the Lord consumes the meal with unnatural fire that Gideon realizes that it really is the Lord. By then, it is too late, and Gideon freaks out, because he knows that he deserves to die.

Still, it takes a direct command from Yahweh to get Gideon to tear down false worship and build a true altar to the true God. And even with that, he amasses a little army of men to do it with him, and does it only under cover of night. We find ourselves thinking that God could hardly have chosen a more ill-equipped deliverer for Israel.

Amazingly, the man who was so afraid of men seems rather bold with God. Complaining not once but twice. Demanding a sign not once but twice. It’s quite shocking, really, how bold he is to display that he is not taking God at His Word.

That Word really ought to have been enough. “Surely, I will be with you” (Judges 6:16), and “[My] peace will be with you” (Judges 6:23). What more could one ask for? Well, Gideon asked for more. But, he becomes a Scripture-mirror in which we can see what our own hearts are like when we question God or make demands of Him.

But we are not the only ones (or the main ones) that we see in this Scripture. Behold the patience of God with His unbelieving, unfaithful servant! Since He owes us absolutely nothing, let us be amazed at every extra comfort and assurance that He gives us!
In what situation are you tempted to doubt that God is accomplishing good for you?
Suggested songs: ARP11 “My Trust Is in the Lord” or TPH256 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

2019.06.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 4:1-11

Questions for Littles: Who is just like a slave (Galatians 4:1)? For how long? What is he, really? What does his father appoint until the right time (Galatians 4:2)? What were believers under in Galatians 4:3? What time came that put an end to that (Galatians 4:4)? Whom did God send forth? Of whom was the Son born? Under what was the Son born? Whom was the Son sent to redeem (Galatians 4:5)? That believers might receive what? What did God do to believers because they are sons (Galatians 4:6)? Whose Spirit is sent? Into what is He sent? What does He do there? What are believers, no longer, after the sending of Christ (Galatians 4:7)? What are they now? What did unbelievers do before they were converted (Galatians 4:8)? What changed that (Galatians 4:9a)? To what are they now turning (verse 9b)? What does Galatians 4:10 identify as the “beggarly elements” of verse 9b? What is the apostle afraid might be true, since they have returned to this (Galatians 4:11)?
This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation, Confession of Sin, Song of Adoration, and Announcement of the Gospel came from Galatians 4:1-11.

This passage tells us about two ages. The age before Jesus came was the age of observance of a church calendar—one invented by God as a guardian and steward until the time that He would send Jesus. These are the “elementary” things mentioned in Galatians 4:3, the weak and beggarly things of Galatians 4:9, that get called out explicitly in Galatians 4:10.

This earthly/elementary church calendar was replaced, when Jesus came. He had to observe them, just as He had to be born under them (Galatians 4:4). But one big reason for His coming was to get believing Jews out from under this calendar from the law (Galatians 4:5a) and into the superior age of the pouring out of the Spirit (Galatians 4:5b to Galatians 4:6) who makes our hearts to cry out to God as Father.

For a Jew to go back to God’s ceremonial calendar would have been the equivalent of renouncing their inheritance in Christ (Galatians 4:7). It’s even worse for those who have been adopted into God’s family from outside the church altogether (Galatians 4:8-10). Why would those who go from strangers to sons desire to follow relapsing Jews into slavery?

How serious is it that they would go for identifying with a church calendar? The apostle actually declares that he fears that his gospel work among them may have been wasted. Such externals, not belonging to the age of the Son and the Spirit of the Son, are in competition with the reality of the Holy Spirit convincing our hearts of our adoption.
What religious rites has Jesus instituted for the age of the Spirit? What rites are people tempted to observe in addition? With what reality are these in competition?
Suggested songs: ARP103B “Bless the LORD, My Soul” or TPH394 “Eternal Spirit, God of Truth”

Monday, June 24, 2019

2019.06.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 12:10-20

Questions for Littles: What happened in the land (Genesis 12:10)? What did Abram do? Why? Where was he in Genesis 12:11? To whom did Abram speak? What did he tell her that he knows? Whom did he think would see her (Genesis 12:12)? What did he think they would do to him? What did Abram ask Sarai to do (Genesis 12:13)? What did he hope would happen? Where did Abram arrive in Genesis 12:14? What did the Egyptians see? Which Egyptians saw her in Genesis 12:15? What did they think? Whom did they tell? What happened to her? How did Pharaoh treat Abram (Genesis 12:16)? Why? What did Abram end up possessing? What did Yahweh do to Pharaoh in Genesis 12:17? Because of whom? Of what does verse 17 remind us about Sarai? Whom did Pharaoh call in Genesis 12:18? What does Pharaoh ask him (Genesis 12:18-19)? What does Pharaoh tell Abram to do? What does Pharaoh command his men to do to Abram (Genesis 12:20)?    
Believers fail spectacularly. Based upon God’s promises and Abram’s response, he’s been the most promising offspring of the woman so far. Based upon what Galatians 3 tells us about Abraham as a model of faith, we’ve been set up to expect him to be a hero. But here he is doubting God’s ability to take care of him, leaving the promised land, trusting himself to save his own life when he hadn’t trusted God, leading his wife into lying, and getting lectured by the Egyptian dictator poster boy for wicked men.

In light of all of that, there is something stunningly missing from the text. Any outright criticism of Abram. Amazingly, there are commentators who think that this means that maybe Abram wasn’t wrong to go to Egypt—or even to mastermind the sister-lie. But to miss the greatness of his stumbling is to miss the point of the passage: the “greaterness” of God’s grace!

Look at what God is doing, while the human hero is falling flat on his face. “He treated Abram well for her sake. He had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male and female servants, female donkeys, and camels… Yahweh plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues… So Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; and they sent him away, with his wife and all that he had.”

God plagues Pharaoh with great plagues and gets Pharaoh to load His people up with the prosperity of Egypt and send them away. Sound familiar? Yes, Abram’s faith is a template for ours, but it is God Himself who is the star of this text, of the whole Bible, and indeed of all history and redemption.

Closer to home, God is the star of your life. He is on record as treating believers according to the worthiness of Christ, not the consistency of their faith. Those who believe in Christ like Abraham believed also stumble spectacularly like Abram stumbled. But this is the nature of grace. In God’s willingness to bless, He has provided Christ, and in His ability to bless He rules and overrules all things for our good. Does this excuse stumbling? Absolutely not! That response is exactly the opposite of repentance and faith. But what it does for the one who stumbles in his repenting and stumbles in his believing is to take his focus off of his stumbling and redirect it back to his gracious God. Dear stumbling believer, let this passage redirect your focus to the God whose grace is for stumbling believers!
How have you stumbled spectacularly? How are you able to keep repenting and believing?
Suggested Songs: ARP182 “Revive Us” or TPH435 “Not What My Hands Have Done”

Saturday, June 22, 2019

2019.06.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 12:10-20

Questions for Littles: What happened in the land (Genesis 12:10)? What did Abram do? Why? Where was he in Genesis 12:11? To whom did Abram speak? What did he tell her that he knows? Whom did he think would see her (Genesis 12:12)? What did he think they would do to him? What did Abram ask Sarai to do (Genesis 12:13)? What did he hope would happen? Where did Abram arrive in Genesis 12:14? What did the Egyptians see? Which Egyptians saw her in Genesis 12:15? What did they think? Whom did they tell? What happened to her? How did Pharaoh treat Abram (Genesis 12:16)? Why? What did Abram end up possessing? What did Yahweh do to Pharaoh in Genesis 12:17? Because of whom? Of what does verse 17 remind us about Sarai? Whom did Pharaoh call in Genesis 12:18? What does Pharaoh ask him (Genesis 12:18-19)? What does Pharaoh tell Abram to do? What does Pharaoh command his men to do to Abram (Genesis 12:20)?
If Genesis 12:4-9 showed us Abram’s faith, these verses show that he is still flawed.

A moment ago, Abram was believing that Yahweh would give the land of Canaan to his offspring, even though it was humanly impossible for him even to have offspring at that time. Now, he’s not trusting Yahweh to feed him in a severe famine.

A moment ago, Abram was believing that Yahweh would take care of him in a new land. Now, Abram is in another new land, but rather than trusting in Yahweh, he’s hatching a plan not only for himself to lie, but for his wife to tell a lie that would cause him to be an adulterer.

It had to be humiliating for the generation that first received the book of Genesis from Moses’s pen. They had just been delivered from Egypt through the various hardenings of that Pharaoh’s immoral heart. But, here in Genesis 12, they read about a previous Pharaoh having to rebuke Abram. God grant to us to be humble about ourselves and our earthly heroes!

But God also grant to us to be amazed at Him and adore Him. He protects Sarai from committing adultery. He enriches Abram. He humbles Pharaoh. And He does this all while Abram is in in the midst of sin. How powerful and merciful is our God!
In what situations that you have messed up has the Lord done good to you?
Suggested Songs: ARP90A “Lord, You Have Been” or TPH234 “The God of Abram Praise”

Friday, June 21, 2019

2019.06.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 13:36-14:7

Questions for Littles: To whom does Peter speak in John 13:36? What does he ask Him? Does Jesus tell Peter where He is going? What does Jesus say that Peter cannot do now? What does Jesus say that Peter will do afterward? What does Peter ask in John 13:37? What does he announce? What does Jesus ask in John 13:38? What does Jesus announce—what will happen before a rooster crows? What does Jesus say immediately after verse 38 (John 14:1). In Whom does Jesus tell them to believe? In Whom else? Where does Jesus tell them there are many rooms (John 14:2)? Why is Jesus going there? What will Jesus do later (John 14:3)? Why? What two things does Jesus say that they know in John 14:4? Who says that they do not know either of these things (John 14:5)? What does Jesus say is the Way to where He is going (John 14:6)? What does Jesus say is the Truth about where He is going? What does Jesus say is the life by which they may follow to where He is going? When does Jesus say that they know the Father and have seen the Father (John 14:7)?
This passage sounds like it is about a place. It’s a “where” question: “Lord, where are You going?” But this question doesn’t have just one “Who” answer, but two “Who” answers.

The first “Who” answer is Jesus’s Father. Peter, and all disciples, are entirely unreliable. They will abandon Jesus tonight. But His Father has never abandoned Him. Even before Jesus became a man, from all eternity, the Father and the Son have lived in mutual love. This is what is going to make the cross so devastating!

But the love of the Father and the Son for One Another doesn’t stop with them. The Father’s house doesn’t have one dwelling place but many. And, Jesus’s ultimate goal isn’t just to be with the Father. It’s to have the disciples with Him with the Father. Jesus is the second “Who” answer to the where question.

Thomas is pretty amazing. Jesus has just finished saying that they know both where He is going (the Father) and the way to get there (Jesus Himself) (John 14:4). Then, Thomas instantly says exactly the opposite of what Jesus says (John 14:5). This is what leads to one of the most memorized verses in Scripture.

But this verse is saying even more than “believing in Jesus is how to get to heaven.” Rather, it is saying that the Father is heaven. And Jesus is heaven. And Jesus is the way to the Father. Because Jesus and the Father are One. So, those who have Jesus do not have to wait until glory to have heaven. They have begun already to have their heaven!

No one has seen God at any time. Jesus, the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father—He has fully revealed Him (John 1:14)!
How can you have heaven now? In what moments do you most experience this?
Suggested songs: ARP157 “Immortality & Resurrection” or TPH270 “At the Name of Jesus”