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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!”