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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”