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Saturday, November 9, 2019

2019.11.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 21:8-21

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 8, 2019

2019.11.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 20:19-25

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 7, 2019

2019.11.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 3:26-29

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

2019.11.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ruth 1:6-13

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

2019.11.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 6:35-51

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 4, 2019

2019.11.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 21:1-7

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

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

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

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

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