Each week we LIVESTREAM the Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, Lord's Day morning public worship at 11a, and Lord's Day p.m. singing (3p) and sermon (3:45), and the Midweek Sermon and Prayer Meeting at 6:30p on Wednesday

Thursday, October 31, 2019

2019.10.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 3:23-26

Questions from the Scripture text: Before faith (here meaning “the One believed in”) came, what kept the believers under guard (Galatians 3:23)? For what were the believers being kept? What is the law called in Galatians 3:24? To Whom was it making sure to bring us? How must one be justified, who comes to Him? Now that the One believed in has come, what are believers no longer under (Galatians 3:25)? What are the people in Galatians 3:26 called? How did they come into this status?
Last week, in Galatians 3:19-22, we learned that the law (the Mosaic administration) was necessary because of  transgressions, but that it could not deliver us from those transgressions. That’s what it couldn’t do. So what’s the one thing that it did do? We learn in Galatians 3:23, the Mosaic administration “kept us under guard” until the time that “the faith” (the one in Whom we believe—Jesus!) would “afterward be revealed.”

The word translated “tutor” here helps us understand the role that the Mosaic covenant played in the history of the covenant of grace. The “tutor” was a teacher and guardian, assigned to an heir, to teach and prepare him for the day that he would come into his inheritance. He was already guaranteed that inheritance, of course. But, he was given a tutor for his own help, so that he might learn more about who he is, what his inheritance is, and how to conduct himself once he had come into it.

The Mosaic administration did all these things. It kept believers mindful of their sin (reminding them who they are), but also held before them the reality of the covenant of grace and God’s determination to set apart to Himself a people to whom He would be committed (also reminding them who they are!). The Mosaic administration also described for them what Christ’s perfect obedience would look like (especially by the moral law) and what Christ’s sacrifice would look like (especially by the ceremonial law). Finally, the Mosaic administration presented obedience not in the context of “how to get saved” but rather as instructions for “how the saved behave” (cf. Exodus 20:2).

With the “tutor’s” help in pointing forward to Jesus, being made right with God has always been by believing—even before the believed-in-one (“the faith” in Galatians 3:23Galatians 3:25) came. But, now that Jesus is here, there is no reason to continue the Mosaic administration. Christ’s moral law, of course, remains the same. It has never been how we were made right with God or qualified to inherit. And, now, it doesn’t even have that role of pointing us forward to Jesus. He Himself has come, and He has given us better things that point back to His finished work on earth and point us up to Him Himself in glory.

What this passage is warning against is coming to the Old Testament in a way that forgets that Jesus has come. It’s His book, and we must read it as those who have Him as our righteousness, and Him as our blessing, and are employing His book to whatever extent it helps us to know Him and serve Him better—and never to supplement what Christ has done. What did the Mosaic administration teach in its time? The same thing that the New Testament teaches us now: trust only in Jesus!
What do you do, that you are tempted to think improves your standing with God?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH435 “Not What My Hands Have Done”

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

2019.10.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ruth 1:1-5

Questions from the Scripture text: In what days does this take place (Ruth 1:1)? What happened in the land? From what tribe does the man go out? Where does he go to dwell? Whom does he take with him? What was the man’s name (Ruth 1:2)? What was his wife’s name? What were his sons’ names? What was another name for Bethlehem (cf. Genesis 35:19)? What is repeated for a second time at the end of verse 2? What happens to Elimelech in Ruth 1:3? What happens to Naomi? To whom else does this happen? From among whom do Mahlon and Chilion take wives (Ruth 1:4)? What were the wives’ names? How long did they dwell there? What happens to the sons in Ruth 1:5? By whom now has she been “left”?
Naomi’s name means “pleasant,” but the opening verses of Ruth present to us a bitterness (“Mara”) upon which much grace must be poured before she is “Naomi” again.

Political bitterness. Judges 21:25 tells us that these were the days when “there was no king in Israel,” and everyone did what was right in his own eyes. This was a time of division among a people, who ought to have been an example to the world of covenant unity.

Spiritual bitterness. “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” isn’t just disunity from one another. It’s rebellion against God, who was their King, and by whose law ought to have determined “what was right” rather than their eyes. Ironically, Elimelech’s name means “My God is King.”

Economic bitterness. There was a famine in the land. This one is related to the spiritual bitterness, because the fruitfulness of the land was a direct function of covenantal blessing and curse (Cf. many passages such as Deuteronomy 11:13-17).

Social bitterness. Naomi ended up with her husband in the land of Moab—arch enemies of Israel (cf. Judges 3:12-30) and of the Lord (cf. Numbers 21:29 and Numbers 25:1-3). Not only that, but her husband dies. Then, her sons marry Moabite women. Then her sons die. In Ruth 1:3, she and her two sons “were left.” The same verb concludes Ruth 1:5. The passage drives the message home: Naomi is being left by all that she holds dear.

What will the Lord bring out of bitterness? That’s the question that these five verses set up for the rest of the book to answer. For believers, whose lives will have much in them that is bitter, we will rejoice to know the answer!
What bitter circumstances do you have? What was the greatest bitterness ever experienced? What did God bring out of that? What do you already know must come out of every situation?
Suggested Songs: ARP30 “O Lord, I Will Exalt You” or TPH256 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

2019.10.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 7:37-53

Questions from the Scripture text:: What day of the feast is this (John 7:37)? Who stands and cries out? Whom does Jesus invite to come to Him? To do what? About whom does Jesus talk in John 7:38? What will happen to that person? About whom was Jesus speaking (John 7:39)? What were people saying about Him in John 7:40-42? What were the people divided over (John 7:43-44)? What did the officers from John 7:32 do in John 7:45? What do the Pharisees ask them? What do the officers answer in John 7:46? What do the Pharisees ask them in John 7:47? What do they ask in John 7:48? What do they say about the entire feast-keeping crowd in John 7:49? Who speaks up in John 7:50? What does he ask in John 7:51? How do they answer him (John 7:52)? What do they give as the reason for not believing in Him? Where does everyone go in John 7:53
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin all come from John 7:37-53. Here, Jesus announces Himself as the water in the wilderness. The Feast of Tabernacles was all about remembering the wilderness period; and a big part of the wilderness period was the miracle of water from the rock when the Israelites thought they would die of thirst.

Now Jesus identifies Himself as that Rock. He not only promises to quench our thirst but to fill us with so much life that it bursts forth from our hearts! Apart from Christ, out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies (Matthew 15:19). But the Holy Spirit comes along and changes our hearts by filling us with the life of Christ!

We have to choose. Are we going to recognize Jesus as the Prophet greater than Moses (John 7:40, cf. Deuteronomy 18:15ff)? Are we going to recognize that His words are Divine words (John 7:46)? Are we going to listen to what He says and respond to what He does (John 7:51)?

May God save us from unbelief! And, we see in John 7:48-49 one of the main things from which we need saving: self-righteousness. One of the things that God used to enable many in the crowd to believe in Jesus was their thirst. They knew they needed a Savior. They were thirsty. But the Pharisees thought that they were better than the accursed crowd (verses 48-49). If we believe that we are better than others, we must admit instead that we are thirsty and need life from Christ.
What time in your life can you remember, when you felt more sharply your need of Jesus? How does remembering that time help you trust in Him? 
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH459 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

Monday, October 28, 2019

2019.10.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 20

Questions from the Scripture text: Where does Abraham go in Genesis 20:1? What does he say about his wife (Genesis 20:2)? Who takes her? Whom does God visit in a dream in Genesis 20:3? What does He say to him? What does Abimelech ask him in Genesis 20:4? What do we learn that Sarah has done in Genesis 20:5? What claim does Abimelech make about himself? Who agrees with this claim (Genesis 20:6)? What has God done for Abimelech? What does God command Abimelech to do in Genesis 20:7? What does God call Abraham? What does Abimelech need Abraham to do for him? If Abimelech does not return Sarah, what will happen to whom? When does Abimelech rise (Genesis 20:8)? Whom does he tell about this? What is their response? Whom does Abimelech call in Genesis 20:9? In what manner does he speak to him (Genesis 20:9-10)? What specific question does he ask? What is Abraham’s (ironic) answer in Genesis 20:11? What excuse does he give in Genesis 20:12? Whom does he blame in Genesis 20:13a? How does he take some of the blame off of Sarah in verse 13b? In addition to returning Sarah, what else does Abimelech give to Abraham (Genesis 20:14)? What invitation does he make in Genesis 20:15? What value does Abimelech assign to what he has given Abraham to restore Sarah’s honor and set her right (Genesis 20:16)? What does Abraham do in Genesis 20:17? What does God do? What had God done (Genesis 20:18)? What does the Scripture call Sarah in verse 18?
Who’s the real king? That’s the question in Genesis 20. Is it Abimelech? The Philistine ruler of Gerar, whose name literally means “my daddy is king”? Or is it Abraham, who in this passage is jumping to conclusions not only about what others are like, but also about how he can be kept safe?

The answer, of course, is that Yahweh is King. He is the One who knows what is going on in Abimelech’s heart (Genesis 20:6), and it is by His grace that the sin of Abimelech’s heart was restrained in the first place! He is the One who has put a baby in Sarah’s womb. He is the One who has closed up the wombs of the Philistines (Genesis 20:18). In other words, Abraham’s fears were completely unfounded, and Abraham’s actions were completely unjustified.

In such a situation, we might expect a righteous King to be punishing Abimelech (who certainly is in danger! ...  Genesis 20:3) and Abraham, who hasn’t learned his lesson from the Pharaoh incident. Instead, God is restraining the sin of Abimelech, and rebuking Abraham through Abimelech, and keeping Sarah safe when her husband didn’t, and blessing Abraham and Sarah with great earthly possessions (Genesis 20:14-15) and a vital spiritual lesson.

But, most of all, the Lord is being gracious by keeping His plan to bring Christ into the world exactly on track. Before time, He determined to be gracious in Christ—to accomplish His redemption in the life and death of Christ, and to apply Christ and His redemption to believers by His Spirit. The Lord isn’t just being gracious to them in this passage. If you believe in Jesus, He is being gracious to you! And He still is.
How have you stumbled recently? How/why has the Lord still been gracious to you?
Suggested Songs: ARP51B “From My Sins” or TPH517 “I Know Whom I Have Believed”

Saturday, October 26, 2019

2019.10.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 20

Questions from the Scripture text: Where does Abraham go in Genesis 20:1? What does he say about his wife (Genesis 20:2)? Who takes her? Whom does God visit in a dream in Genesis 20:3? What does He say to him? What does Abimelech ask him in Genesis 20:4? What do we learn that Sarah has done in Genesis 20:5? What claim does Abimelech make about himself? Who agrees with this claim (Genesis 20:6)? What has God done for Abimelech? What does God command Abimelech to do in Genesis 20:7? What does God call Abraham? What does Abimelech need Abraham to do for him? If Abimelech does not return Sarah, what will happen to whom? When does Abimelech rise (Genesis 20:8)? Whom does he tell about this? What is their response? Whom does Abimelech call in Genesis 20:9? In what manner does he speak to him (Genesis 20:9-10)? What specific question does he ask? What is Abraham’s (ironic) answer in Genesis 20:11? What excuse does he give in Genesis 20:12? Whom does he blame in Genesis 20:13a? How does he take some of the blame off of Sarah in verse 13b? In addition to returning Sarah, what else does Abimelech give to Abraham (Genesis 20:14)? What invitation does he make in Genesis 20:15? What value does Abimelech assign to what he has given Abraham to restore Sarah’s honor and set her right (Genesis 20:16)? What does Abraham do in Genesis 20:17? What does God do? What had God done (Genesis 20:18)? What does the Scripture call Sarah in Genesis 20:18?
Back in chapter 12, it must have been jarring to the Israelites who first received the book of Genesis to hear Pharaoh (the wicked Egyptian!) rebuking “good” father Abram. But now that we’re in chapter 20, and he’s a believer, and he’s grown in the faith, and his name is Abraham, he would do better in the same situation, right?

WRONG!

Here in chapter 20, it’s again jarring to hear Abimelech (the wicked Philistine!) rebuking God’s prophet (cf. Genesis 20:7) Abraham. Some readers think that perhaps the rebuke is not well-earned, and that Abraham has done nothing wrong. But the text itself emphasizes that Sarah is his wife (Genesis 20:2) despite what he said, and that she is his wife (Genesis 20:3), and that she is “the man’s wife” (Genesis 20:7), and that Abimelech restored his wife (Genesis 20:14)… and even concludes the account with “Sarah, Abraham’s wife” in Genesis 20:18.

Even Abraham’s sheepish explanation in Genesis 20:11-13 falls on its face. It is Abraham who did not fear God enough, and Abimelech whose fear of God (Genesis 20:3-5) features prominently in the passage and is confirmed even in Genesis 20:6. When Abimelech takes Abraham’s words at the end of Genesis 20:13 to refer to him as “your brother” in talking to Sarah in his public speech in Genesis 20:16, it settles accounts for her public name, but brings shame to Abraham’s weak excuse.

But the point of the passage isn’t so much Abraham’s continued failure. Believers who know ourselves are often shocked to find old habits of sin rearing their ugly heads once again. But, it isn’t great comfort merely to know that other saints have experienced this too. What is a great comfort is to observe God in this passage, relating by grace to His stumbling servant! He’s still defending Abraham’s interests (Genesis 20:3). He still considers him a prophet (Genesis 20:7). He still responds to his prayers as those of a righteous man (Genesis 20:7Genesis 20:17, cf. James 5:16).

It was not for the sake of Abraham’s obedience that the Lord was merciful to him, but for the sake of Christ’s obedience that became Abraham’s righteousness through faith (cf. Genesis 15:6). When we stumble into old patterns of sin, let us rejoice that our Redeemer is this same God of Abraham, and our righteousness is that same righteousness of Christ!
In what ways have you stumbled recently or in the past? What if you stumble again?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

Friday, October 25, 2019

2019.10.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 19:38-20:9

Questions from the Scripture text: What was Joseph of Arimathea (John 19:38)? Why was this a secret? What did he ask and receive from Pilate? Who else came in John 19:39? What did he bring? What did they do with Jesus’s body in John 19:40? Where was the garden in John 19:41? What was in it? Why did they lay Jesus there (John 19:42)? What day is it in John 20:1? Who goes to the tomb? When? What does she see there? Whom does she run to in John 20:2? What does she tell them? Where do they go in John 20:3? In what manner do they go (John 20:4)? Who gets there first? What does John see when he looks in, in John 20:5? What doesn’t he do? What does Peter do in John 20:6? What does he notice in John 20:7? What response does John have when he goes in and sees this too (John 20:8)? What had they not yet understood (John 20:9)? 
In John 19:38-42, we see the Holy Spirit emphasizing the historical truthfulness of Christ’s burial. This was important, because Jesus had prophesied that the Son of Man would be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights (cf. Matthew 12:40). Returning to the earth was part of Christ’s humiliation, as part of the penalty for Adam’s sin (cf. Genesis 3:19).

Even in facilitating Christ’s burial, we see the Lord using all sorts of imperfect people. Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the council (cf. Luke 23:30), and Niocdemus was a Pharisee on that council (cf. John 7:50), but they lacked courage—Joseph feared the Jews and it was by night that Nicodemus had come to Him in chapter 3. Mary Magdalene was about as low as you could get in society, the very opposite of those two men. Peter was slower (John 20:4), but John lacked boldness (John 20:5) and faith at first (John 20:8). They both had lacked understanding of the Scriptures (John 20:9) about the resurrection.

Here, as everywhere, Christ Himself is ultimately the only Hero. He had justified His people (cf. Romans 4:25). When the humiliated Christ of the grave became the exalted Christ of the resurrection, God made public display that His payment for sin had been accepted in full. He had been demonstrated to be the Son of God with power (cf. Romans 1:4). Just as Jesus had dismissed His Spirit by His own authority (cf. John 10:18), so by that authority as the Son of God, He had taken His life up again. He was being revealed as the One by Whom God would judge the world (cf. Acts 17:31). The great question for each descendant of the original Adam is whether we have responded to these resurrection-displayed facts about Jesus Christ!
What difference does it make to you that Christ’s payment has been accepted in full?
Suggested songs: ARP130 “Lord, from the Depths” or TPH22A “Sing, Choirs of New Jerusalem”

Thursday, October 24, 2019

2019.10.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 3:15-22

Questions from the Scripture text: In what manner does the apostle speak (Galatians 3:15)? What cannot be done to a covenant once it is confirmed? Even to what kind of covenant? To Whom were the promises made (Galatians 3:16)? What point does this verse make about the word “Seed” in Genesis 22:18 as an explanation of Genesis 12:3 (along with several other promises)? Since the word ‘Seed’ is singular, Whom does Galatians 3:16 say that the word must mean? What came 430 years later (Galatians 3:17)? What couldn’t this later thing do to the covenant? What couldn’t it do to the promise? What is not of the law in Galatians 3:18? What question does Galatians 3:19 ask? Because of what was the law added? Until when did the law promise forgiveness of transgressions? In what way did the law come (as opposed to the way in which the promise came)? How many parties are involved with a mediator (Galatians 3:20)? So, what has to have been already in place for the law to come through a mediator? What does the law not change or undo, even at the time of Moses (Galatians 3:21)? What could it not do? What could it do (Galatians 3:22a)? To whom, alone, would the promise come both before and after Jesus Christ came (verse 22b-c)?
By attaching a date (430 years later) to “the law” in this section, the Holy Spirit shows that by “the law,” He is speaking of the Mosaic covenant. The argument in Galatians 3:15-18 is that the Mosaic covenant could not have been given as a way of inheriting, because this would have been to alter the terms of the Abrahamic covenant—an impossibility. So, inheritance was by the promise before, and inheritance is by the promise during the Mosaic administration, and inheritance is by the promise now.

Why, then, was there even a Mosaic covenant? That’s the question of Galatians 3:19. The answer is that it was a gift for restraining sin until Christ (verse 19). It came with the great display of God’s holiness at Sinai (angels, the ten thousand holy ones of Deuteronomy 33:2), through a mediator as great as Moses. Why the Mediator? Not for God, but for the people (Galatians 3:20). This covenant was never meant to give righteousness (Galatians 3:21), but rather to make sure that for righteousness, the people of God would only always believe in Jesus Christ, who was to come.

What the Lord did for His people in the long-term, historical sense, He also does in individuals’ lives. Romans 3:19-26 teaches that the law stops up every mouth so that righteousness that is witnessed by the Law and the Prophets comes apart from the law—only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, whom God set forth as a propitiation.

Dear believer, your inheritance is not from how well you are doing as a Christian, but from the unchangeable, completely earned by Jesus, promise of God in Christ!
What good work have you been working on lately? What can’t it do for you? Who alone can do it?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH130A “Lord, from the Depths”

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

2019.10.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Judges 21

Read Judges 21
Questions from the Scripture text: What had the rest of Israel sworn (Judges 21:1)? Where do they go in Judges 21:2? What do they do? What do they cry out (Judges 21:3)? What do they do in Judges 21:4? What loophole do they try to use in Judges 21:5-8? Who end up being the answer (Judges 21:8b-9)? What penalty does Jabesh-Gilead pay for having failed to participate in the judgment upon Benjamin (Judges 21:10-11)? But who end up being spared from this judgment (Judges 21:12)? For what purpose were they spared (Judges 21:13-14)? What problem did they still have (Judges 21:15-16)? Why is lack of wives such a problem (Judges 21:17)? What obstacle is restated in Judges 21:18? What loophole do they now make use of in Judges 21:19-23? What explanation do they give in Judges 21:22? What are they finally able to do in Judges 21:24? With what comment does Judges 21:25 summarize what has happened here? Whose approval is never given of these methods in the text?
In a culture where we are accustomed to marrying primarily for ourselves, not considering marriage as a vital way of serving the Lord and the Lord’s people, there is much that is shocking to us in this chapter.

There is much here that is sinful—there is very little theological comment in the text, and definitely no approval from the Lord. In fact, the summary statement is, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” So the right way of interpreting is not for us to approve and imitate. THAT would make for a bizarre approach to courtship!

And yet, though their solution was cringeworthy, their concern was commendable.

They grieve over tragedy in the church (Judges 21:2). Do we grieve over the spiritual barrenness of the churches? Over children that learn to be worldly in the home and church, and depart the church into the world when they leave that home? Over those who leave churches that operate on a principle of what God wants to a church that gives them a bit more of what they want?

They are concerned to keep what they have sworn by Yahweh (Judges 21:7Judges 21:18). Of course, it is possible to vow to something that is positively evil, in which case making the vow was wicked, and keeping the vow would further be wicked. That does not appear to be the case here; but even if it were, the concern to keep their vow is commendable. In a place and time when believers think nothing of throwing away what they have promised before the face of God, it is sobering to think that, in some ways, the church is in a worse place than the people of God were in Judges 21. How easily do you break vows made before God?

They are concerned for the remaining Benjamites to have fruitful marriages (Judges 21:16-17). It has been a theme in the book of Judges that the wicked have failed to come out to war against the enemies of God and His people. But, from the slaughter of Jabesh Gilead, eligible brides’ lives are spared for the Benjamites who also deserved death and whose lives have been spared. Much of the tribe of Benjamin, from Judges 21 on, is made up of those who were under the sentence of death but spared! This factor, of each having spared from death for the other, would at minimum give the new couple a common starting point for their decidedly uncommon marriages. Now, the application would look very differently—modest apparel, carefulness in types of interaction, setting an example in how we talk about our spouses, etc.—but, the question is: how much are we putting into promoting one another’s marriages? What they ended up doing may not have been commendable, but their thought and effort puts many of us to shame.

Ultimately, this passage leaves us thankful that Jesus Christ is King in Israel, so that we would not be left to our own wisdom, desires, and rules. May we not only rest entirely upon who He is and what He has done, but also diligently employ His means in our lives, lest we be well-meaning but kingless fools and scoundrels.
In what areas of life/church have you been learning that the Lord has given instruction, where you had previously operated according to your own ideas?
Suggested Songs: ARP119W “Lord, Let My Cry” or TPH174 “The Ten Commandments”

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

2019.10.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 4:1-7

Questions from the Scripture: What have Paul and his companions received for their ministry (2 Corinthians 4:1)? What do they not lose? What does he call the things that they have renounced in 2 Corinthians 4:2? In what do they refuse to walk? How do they refuse to handle the word of God? Instead, what do they do with the truth? To what aspect, then, of every man, do they commend themselves? In whose sight? What may happen to their gospel (2 Corinthians 4:3a)? But to whom would it be veiled (verse 3b)? What does 2 Corinthians 4:4 call the devil? What has he done to those who are perishing? What do they not do? What does this veil keep them from seeing? Who is Christ, according to verse 4? What, then, do Paul and his companions not preach (2 Corinthians 4:5)? What do they preach? How do they consider themselves? Who does the work (2 Corinthians 4:6)? What else has He done about 4000 years prior? In whom else has He already done this spiritual counterpart to that work? Where does He shine? What light does He give? In whose face is the knowledge of this glory received? By what kind of vessel is this treasure conveyed (2 Corinthians 4:7)? What does this show?
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin all come from 2 Corinthians 4:1-7. Here, the apostle explains why his ministry is not generally impressive to all. One might have (wrongly) expected that the ministry of an apostle would be impressive to anyone.

Paul’s ultimate response is that God alone is the impressiveness of the work, and those who are not impressed with Him are not going to find anything else to be impressed with in his ministry (2 Corinthians 4:7). This doesn’t bother him, because his ministry is not his idea or his pride. It as an assignment of God by the mercy of God. It may seem to be going poorly, but if it is of God, then there is no reason to lose heart!

Ironically, the apostle refers to superficially impressive ministry as “the hidden things of shame.” There is a way of handling the Word of God that looks impressive on the outside, but what you cannot see is that it is man-derived and man-dependent. But the apostles are not concerned with commending themselves to men’s admiration. They are concerned with commending themselves to men’s consciences. Oh, that we would learn to see our life as an assignment from God and deal earnestly with others as those who will have to stand before Him!! How this might help us to stop living for their applause!

Will such a ministry have a hundred percent conversion rate? No and yes. In one sense, no. There are those who are perishing. And if the Lord has not atoned for them, and is not going to regenerate them, then what exactly are we supposed to be able to do about that? It is not just that they are unable to see God’s glory. It is also that they are not permitted. 2 Corinthians 4:4 says that God has set things up this way because He refuses to shine the light of the gospel upon them.

But in another sense, yes. Such a ministry will have a hundred percent conversion rate. For, the Lord is all powerful. He spoke light itself into existence. And He can speak spiritual light into existence in the hearts. And He does, because in the case of His elect, He is determined to give them the light of the knowledge of His glory in the face of Jesus Christ!
What kind of ministry should we look for in the church? Whom should we be looking to make it effective? With whom should we aim at being impressed? What aims and approaches are incompatible with this?
Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH271 “Blessed Jesus, At Your Word”

Monday, October 21, 2019

2019.10.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 19:30-38

Questions from the Scripture text: Where does Lot go, and with whom in Genesis 19:30? Whom have we recently heard about drinking so much wine that he lost his awareness, and great sin was committed by his children (cf. Genesis 9:20-28)? To whom does that happen now (Genesis 19:31-36)? What results from this in Genesis 19:37-38?
Lot is a cautionary tale who presents us with a dilemma—earthly blessings are real blessings, and so ought to be enjoyed, and are yet dangerous to our souls!  How should we go about enjoying them, without falling into worldliness or abusing them?  Psalm 1:1-2 gives us a good start.  We are careful not to let the world tell us about how to enjoy things; we delight first in God’s law, and meditate on it day and night.

And there is a very helpful passage in 1 Corinthians 7:29-35, that basically tells us that in light of the soon-coming eternity, we should hold the duties and pleasures and pains of this life with a very loose grip.  Do every task with your eye on eternity.  Enjoy every pleasure with your eye on eternity.  Mourn every grief with your eye on eternity.  Go ahead and enjoy your wife, and mourn, and rejoice, and buy, and sell—but give them the weight in your heart that they comparatively have to eternity… so in your heart, as you do them, it is as if you are not doing them at all!

Lot, who lived by sight, is an intentional foil for Abraham in this section.  God means for us to see in them two opposite ways of living.  Abraham, though not perfect, is living by faith—we see this in his better moments at the end of chapter 14 and beginning of 16… trusting in God as his hope, finding in God his delight.

Lot is just the opposite.  By failing to live as a true pilgrim in this world, by failing to hope in God alone and treasure God far above all earthly things, Lot has never found the 1 Corinthians 7 balance of having wives as if you have none, and mourning as if you aren’t mourning, and rejoicing as if you’re not rejoicing, and buying goods as if you’re not really possessing them, and dealing with the world as if you have no dealings with it.

We find Lot in Genesis 19:30, not living in and interacting with Zoar, while his heart is in heaven.  Rather, his prior worldliness has left him completely confused.  Lot’s not afraid of worldliness, like he should be; now, he’s afraid of the world itself.  His worldliness wasn’t just unbelievably foolish; its effects were irretrievably harmful.
Where have you been similar to Lot? How has Christ been different? How does that relate to you being right with God? How does it relate to your growth in godliness?
Suggested Songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH446 “Be Thou My Vision”

Saturday, October 19, 2019

2019.10.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 19:30-38

Questions from the Scripture text: Where does Lot go, and with whom in Genesis 19:30? Whom have we recently heard about drinking so much wine that he lost his awareness, and great sin was committed by his children (cf. Genesis 9:20-28)? To whom does that happen now (Genesis 19:31-36)? What results from this in Genesis 19:37-38
What a disaster! We are reminded once again that the wickedness and guilt for which the entire world will be condemned is yet alive and dangerous within the hearts and lives of believers.

For the second time in the book of Genesis, God has saved someone from a great judgment. For the second time, that person whom the Lord has saved allows himself to get drunk with wine—a great sin, in that God has given us to be ruled by knowledge of Him, and to be reasonable creatures, but drunkenness takes away this faculty and leaves us to our passions and impulses. Lot, of whom Scripture tells us that his soul was tormented by the sin of Sodom every day, is brought into that very sin through drunkenness!

Of course, he has set himself up for such sin. He valued earthly wealth over being joined with Abram. And then he moved further and further into the city. We do not know anything of a wife before he comes to Sodom, so it is quite possible that he has taken a wife from Sodom—especially since she looks back after they had returned to safety. He has brought his daughters up in Sodom, and then he has promised them in marriage to two men from Sodom.

Even if one can, perhaps, take such worldly-conditioned children out of the world to some extent, he cannot take the worldliness out of the children. This is one reason why God’s plan of gathering the redeemed into an accountable, worshiping, discipling community is so merciful and necessary!

But Lot cuts off himself and his family from such a community. He is rightly afraid to be surrounded by the people of Zoar, but when he goes up to the mountains and the cave, rather than returning to Abraham, he sets himself and his daughters up for this great wickedness. And it is a wickedness that will afflict the people of God for generations to come, as the Moabites and Ammonites come from it.

Yet, look at the marvelous mercy of God! Ruth the Moabitess will one day choose, by God’s grace, to leave her people and her gods to be joined to the Lord’s people and to the Lord Himself, the one true God. Indeed, she will become an ancestor of the One in whom we may be forgiven, the One to whom we may be conformed, the One who takes those whom He justifies and then sanctifies them, transforming them by the renewing of their minds.

This text may be a cautionary tale to all of us about the sin that still remains, but it is also pointing us to Him who removes all guilt at His cross, gathers us into the community of His saints, and proceeds to conform us to His own perfect Self through His Spirit’s use of His means. Praise be to the Lord Jesus Christ!
How do you seek to be transformed by the renewing of your mind? What must you avoid?
Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

Friday, October 18, 2019

2019.10.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 19:31-37

Questions from the Scripture text: What day was it (John 19:31)? What special kind of Sabbath was the next day? Why weren’t Jesus’s legs broken (John 19:31-33)? What did they do to Him instead in John 19:34? What happens? Why did these things happen (John 19:36-37)? What is John’s purpose for testifying to these things (John 19:35)? 
The Lord wants you to believe in Jesus Christ. That is the great message of John 19:35. John will emphasize this point once again at the end of the next chapter (John 20:31). How does this faith come about? We can see it even in how Scripture tells us about the bodies’ being removed from the cross.

There are some who read this passage and get hung up upon what it might mean that blood and water both came out. Is it something medical—showing the asphyxiation by which Christ died? Is it something theological—a reference to the Supper and baptism, or the two kinds of birth that one must have to be saved?

Without other Scripture making something of the combination itself, we are left with John’s own emphasis in John 19:35. It is simply the kind of details that one would know if he were there—if he were standing with Mary, whom he had just been commanded to adopt as his mother, and watching as the soldiers came by to clean up before the special Sabbath of the Passover (the “high” day).

And what did John see? He saw two Scripture texts being fulfilled. Psalm 34:20 had prophesied, “not one of His bones shall be broken.” Psalm 22:16-17 had said, “they shall look on Him whom they pierced.”

Don’t you see, dear reader? This was a planned death. The crucifixion was intended by God and foretold by God so that we would do more than merely know that it happened—that, in fact, we would hope in what God planned to do here… that we would hope in Him who gave Himself as the substitute for those who deserved death and the wrath of God.

The Jews were ever so careful and desirous to participate in the Passover ritual. But Scripture here points us to Christ and says that it is Him in whom we should seek to have a part! Have you been careful to rest in Him and have a part in Him?
Why did God tell us about Christ’s death beforehand? Why did He tell us afterward?
Suggested songs: ARP22A “My God, My God” or TPH22A “My God, My God, O Why Have You”

Thursday, October 17, 2019

2019.10.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 3:13-14

Questions from the Scripture text: From what has Christ redeemed us (Galatians 3:13)? What did He become for us? How did God show that (cf. Deuteronomy 21:23)? Whose blessing came upon the Gentiles (Galatians 3:14)? In Whom? What/Whom did we receive? Through what?
In what ways are we not under the law, if we believe in Jesus Christ?

First, we are not under the curse of the law. As Galatians 3:10 reminded us, the law puts a curse upon everyone who does not personally, perfectly, perpetually obey it!

This is a great problem for us, because we have not done so. It is no problem for Christ, because He has done so.

Yet, one of the wonders of the gospel is that Christ has taken our problem and made it His problem. Galatians 3:13 tells us that Christ became a curse for us.

Scripture wanted us to see that this is what Christ was doing by the prophecy of Deuteronomy 21:23, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.” This is why Jesus had to be crucified, not stoned or beheaded or die of tuberculosis. He wasn’t only being punished in our place; He was being displayed as having become a curse for us.

You, dear reader, must have this as all your hope as you think about the judgment of God. If Christ is not yours through faith, then your curse is still yours, and it will sink you lower than the grave!

A second way that believers are not under the law is that they are hoping for reward through faith in Christ, not through the merit of the law.

Galatians 3:14 tells us that it is “in Christ Jesus” that “the blessing of Abraham” comes upon the nations (the literal meaning of “Gentiles”).

Scripture often tells us that there is a reward for good works, but then it also often tells us that none of our works are good enough to deserve the reward. How can this be?

It is because Christ is the One who deserves the reward. And the Christ who deserves the reward is the One who gives us His Spirit. As the apostle has already reminded them, it is preposterous to imagine that the Spirit could ever be received by a wicked man as his due for his works under the law (cf. Galatians 3:2).  Now, Galatians 3:14 affirms that all of the blessings of the covenant (collectively called “the blessing of Abraham”) are in Christ Jesus, received through faith.

We are not under law, but under grace—the grace that gives us Christ’s righteousness counted for us and His removal of the curse from us, the grace that works out Christ’s righteousness in us to enable us to obey the law, the grace that gives us in Christ all covenant blessing.
What role does God’s law have in your life? What role must it not have in your life?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH130A “Lord, from the Depths”

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

2019.10.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Judges 20

Read Judges 20
Questions from the Scripture text: How many Israelites assemble in Judges 20:1-2? Who heard about this in Judges 20:3? What do the Israelites ask? How does the Levite answer in Judges 20:4-6? How does he challenge them in Judges 20:7? What do they decide to do in Judges 20:8-10? Against whom do they come in Judges 20:11? What do they do with the other cities of Benjamin (Judges 20:12-13)? How does the rest of Benjamin answer (Judges 20:13-14)? How many do they gather (Judges 20:15-16)? From how many is Israel’s 10% selected (Judges 20:17)? Whom do they ask about which should be selected (Judges 20:18)? How does He answer? But what happens to these forty thousand in Judges 20:19-21? And how does Israel respond after this (Judges 20:22)? What do they ask, and what does Yahweh say (Judges 20:23)? What happens this time (Judges 20:24-25)? And now how do they respond (Judges 20:26-28)? What is different about this third response from Yahweh in Judges 20:28? What strategy does Israel employ this time (Judges 20:29-34Judges 20:36-46)? But what was the deciding factor—Who defeated Benjamin (Judges 20:35)? How many escaped (Judges 20:47)? What was done to the rest of the cities of Benjamin (Judges 20:48)? To how many of the inhabitants of each city?
It might appear at first that Gibeah is wicked, and the rest of Israel is righteous. I’m afraid that we all have a tendency to see others’ sins and not our own—especially when that sin is of the heinous kind that we have seen in Gibeah in chapter 19.

But we are concerned, as we hear the Levite give his account, to wonder why he would be so indignant when it is he who offered his concubine/bride to be abused in his own place. We see that there is great sin in him as well.

Indeed, as the people of Israel consult the Lord, and the Lord says to send Judah (Judges 20:18), and then the Lord says to go up again (Judges 20:23), it is by His Word that Israel goes to its own defeat and destruction. Finally, the third time, the Lord actually promises that they will prevail (Judges 20:28), but there is an indication here that they are all guilty before God and deserving of destruction. It is not until they come with fasting and sacrifice—acknowledging that they too deserve God’s wrath—that they receive this third response.

Indeed, as they call Benjamin “our brother,” they acknowledged that they are of the same stock (even as the people of Jesus’s day condemned themselves when they accused their ancestors of killing the prophets, cf. Matthew 23:29-33).

And so the judgment of God falls so heavily upon Benjamin that it truly is a judgment upon all of Israel, as one tribe comes precariously close to being wiped out—something that will have to be remedied in the next chapter.

So, as we rightly condemn sin in others, let us not forget to righteously condemn our own sin, and come to God clinging only to the sacrifice of Christ—and not with any illusions of our own goodness!
What are some sins that you are rightly indignant about in others? What do your own sins deserve? What hope can there be for someone who deserves this?
Suggested Songs: ARP119W “Lord, Let My Cry before You Come” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

2019.10.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 5:6-21

Questions from the Scripture text: What condition were we in, when Christ died for us (Romans 5:6)? For whom does verse 6 specifically say that Christ died? For what kind of man would people ordinarily still be unwilling to die (Romans 5:7)? Who is giving the demonstration in Romans 5:8? What is He demonstrating? For Whom? In what condition were we when Christ died? For whom did Christ die? Is Romans 5:9 presenting something that is more certain, or less certain, than sinners such as we are being justified (declared righteous) through Christ’s blood? What is more certain—from what will we be saved? Through Whom? What were we, when we were reconciled to God (Romans 5:10)? Through what were we reconciled? What condition are we now in? By what shall we be saved (end of verse 10)? In addition to this certainty, what are we already doing (Romans 5:11)? In Whom are we rejoicing? Through Whom are we rejoicing? Why—what have we received through Him? How did sin enter the world (Romans 5:12)? What entered through sin? What had all men done (verse 12)? What was already in the world before it was given on Sinai (Romans 5:13)? What happened to men from Adam to Moses, to show that the law was already in effect (Romans 5:14)? When Adam’s offense and Jesus’ grace are in competition, which does Romans 5:15 say “abounded”? How many offenses of Adam did it take to condemn us (Romans 5:17a)? From how many of our offenses did Jesus justify us (verse 17b)? What kind of gift did Romans 5:16 call this? How were many made sinners (Romans 5:19a)? How were many made righteous (verse 19b)? When the law came to be written on stone and scroll, instead of only on hearts, what abounded (Romans 5:20)? But when Jesus came and was obedient in our place, what abounded even more than the offense of those sins? Whose kingly reigns are in competition in Romans 5:21? What do each of these produce? Whom does verse 21 identify as having made this glorious difference?
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin all came from Romans 5:6-21. This is a passage about those whom God has declared righteous through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). But there are two transitions that have taken place. Legally, they have gone from “sinners” (Romans 5:8) to “justified” (Romans 5:9). Relationally, they have gone from “enemies” (Romans 5:10) to “reconciled” (Romans 5:10-11). Is this you, dear reader? Have you recognized the debt of sin, and come to the cross and had it canceled in the permanent ink of the blood of Jesus Christ? If so, then you are reconciled with God!

And the point that our passage is making is that if God’s particular interest in you was such that while you were still ungodly and a sinner and an enemy, Christ died for you… how can it even be possible that God’s interest in you has become any less now? Less interest in one who is declared righteous by the throne of heaven? Less interest in one whose righteousness and reconciliation are the result of being IN CHRIST? Less interest now that you have gone from His enemy to His friend? Of course not! God’s redeeming love and saving interest in you cannot be lost by anything in time, because it is from eternity. It can have no end, because it had no beginning!

Further, Romans 5:11 considers the new reflex of our hearts toward God—to be exulting in Him, to be full of His praise—and says that this new life of rejoicing is an evidence and seal of our reconciliation. So, may I ask you, dear reader—do you rejoice over God’s great redeeming love and saving acts?

Here, also, we have one of Scripture’s great comparisons between the first Adam and the last Adam, our Lord Jesus Christ. Some dislike the idea of Adam’s sin being counted against us. But the fact of the matter is that if we cannot be considered in our federal head, then this takes Jesus away from us. We are sinning and dying plenty for ourselves. How we ought to rejoice that there is a free gift of righteousness and eternal life for us in the obedience of Jesus Christ!

Some dislike the idea of Jesus being punished for the sins of others. But let them see that He willingly went. It is grace! It is a free gift! It is not some horror of injustice, but a mind-boggling quest of love and power! And let all remember that apart from Jesus and His grace we are perishing. God’s law has always been on our hearts. There is no escape. One great purpose of His proceeding to give that law also in plain words was to intensify this urgency. How great is our offense against God!

And yet, it is precisely the gospel that enables us to say, “How great is my offense!” As we go through life, realizing this over and over again, we are not terrified to death, but rather more and more amazed at our eternal life. Every time we say, “How great is my offense!” The Lord Jesus comes along in the gospel and says, “How greater is my grace!” There is no extent of the believer’s realization of his sin and death that Christ has not already answered with forgiveness and eternal life. For the believer, wherever sin abounds, grace has already abounded all the more!
Why are your offenses great? How is God’s grace greater? How are you responding to this great grace?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH431 “And Can It Be”

Monday, October 14, 2019

2019.10.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 19:12-29

Questions from the Scripture text: How does Genesis 19:12 identify the speakers? By whom does Genesis 19:13 say they were sent? Whom does Genesis 19:21-22 say will overthrow the city? Whom does Genesis 19:24 say rained down brimstone and fire? Before whom had Abraham stood (Genesis 19:27)? What question does Yahweh ask Lot in Genesis 19:12? Considering  Genesis 18:32 and Genesis 19:13 (and Who it is that is asking!), what does he already know is the answer? Whom did Lot warn about the city’s destruction (Genesis 19:14)? Why did they not heed him? What had Lot suggested would happen early in the morning (Genesis 19:2)? What actually happened (Genesis 19:15)? When he lingered, what did they do (Genesis 19:16)? Why? Where do they tell him to go (Genesis 19:17)? What does he recognize that the Lord has done for him (Genesis 19:19)? But, what does he think may happen if he goes so far? Where does he ask to go, and why (Genesis 19:20-23)? What happens in Genesis 19:24-25? Where are they when Genesis 19:25 happens? What happens to his wife and why (Genesis 19:26)? Who else looks that direction, and what does he see (Genesis 19:27-28)? Why had God spared Lot (Genesis 19:29)?
We want to pay good attention to God’s judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah, because that is the future of all the earth. In Acts 17:30-31, the apostle Paul is preaching to people who have heard of all sorts of religions, but do not know the one true God, and have not heard of Jesus Christ. He announces to them one implication of the resurrection that doesn’t often receive much attention: that the resurrection is assurance that Jesus is the Judge by Whom God will judge the world in righteousness, and that therefore the resurrection is a command that all men everywhere repent.

So, as we consider the command for repentance in light of Genesis 19, we are keen to know whether or not there can be mercy. None of us have righteousness of our own. None of us could withstand, in ourselves, a judging of the world in righteousness. But—praise God!—what we find in this passage is mercy in the midst of judgment.

We find the cause of mercy. Genesis 19:16 is a beautiful snapshot of the fact that the cause of mercy is in the Lord Himself. Lot—who has brought so much of this upon himself, despite having a soul that trusts in Christ for eternal salvation and that is tormented by evil—is now lingering (can you imagine?!). There is nothing in Lot himself that could be the cause of mercy. He is doing the very thing for which his wife is about to be righteously judged. But the Lord is simply merciful. That is the cause of His mercy to some, or else we would all be condemned.

We also find the command of mercy. In Genesis 19:12, and then on Lot’s lips in Genesis 19:14, and then again in Genesis 19:15, and then Genesis 19:17, and then Genesis 19:22… over and over again, we see the urging to flee the wrath to come. This was the great cry of John the baptizer, as he was preparing the way for the Lord Jesus, and it is a command of mercy. Flee the wrath to come! Do you not know that there is wrath coming? Not merely upon one nation or another, but upon this entire wicked world that must be burned with fire and created anew—and especially upon the devil and his angels, and all people who are not united to Christ by faith, all of whom will be thrown forever into what Scripture calls the lake of fire.

Third, we find the compelling of mercy. Sometimes there are those who have heard, and whom God is saving, but who are sluggish to do so—even after repeated and urgent commands. And yet God, in His mercy, brings them by some compelling providence—a picture of which we have in Genesis 19:16. The Lord here, appearing as these two angels, literally drags Lot, his wife, and his two daughters, by the hand outside the city! O, that the Lord would show such mercy to us—and to all our dear ones—who have heard the gospel but are slow of heart to leave this world’s pleasures and purposes behind!

Finally, we find the commitment (covenant) of mercy. When Genesis 19:29 summarizes this great judgment, it summarizes it primarily as a demonstration of mercy, and it tells us the mechanism by which the justice of God is satisfied, while the mercy of God is exercised: God remembered Abraham. Of course, the promise about Abraham is first and foremost a promise about his Seed, Jesus Christ, that offspring through Whom all of the families of the earth will be blessed. There is one God and one Mediator, the Man Jesus Christ. There is no other Name given under heaven by which one may be saved. Salvation is in Him alone—cling to Him! For, when the day of overthrow comes, God will remember the Lord Jesus Christ and all of those who are united to Him.
How real to you is the wrath to come? How urgent has God been with you? In what/whom are you hoping?
Suggested Songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage” or TPH385 “The Lord Will Come”

Saturday, October 12, 2019

2019.10.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 19:12-29

Questions from the Scripture text: How does Genesis 19:12 identify the speakers? By whom does Genesis 19:13 say they were sent? Whom do Genesis 19:21-22 say will overthrow the city? Whom does Genesis 19:24 say rained down brimstone and fire? Before whom had Abraham stood (Genesis 19:27)? What question does Yahweh ask him in Genesis 19:12? Considering  Genesis 18:32 and Genesis 19:13 (and Who it is that is asking!), what does he already know is the answer? Whom did Lot warn about the city’s destruction (Genesis 19:14)? Why did they not heed him? What had Lot suggested would happen early in the morning (Genesis 19:2)? What actually happened (Genesis 19:15)? When he lingered, what did they do (Genesis 19:16)? Why? Where do they tell him to go (Genesis 19:17)? What does he recognize that the Lord has done for him (Genesis 19:19)? But, what does he think may happen if he goes so far? Where does he ask to go, and why (Genesis 19:20-23)? What happens in Genesis 19:24-25? Where are they when Genesis 19:25 happens? What happens to his wife and why (Genesis 19:26)? Who else looks that direction, and what does he see (Genesis 19:27-28)? Why had God spared Lot (Genesis 19:29)? Where does Lot go, and with whom in Genesis 19:30? Whom have we recently heard about drinking so much wine that he lost his awareness, and great sin was committed by his children (cf. Genesis 9:20-28)? To whom does that happen now (Genesis 19:31-36)? What results from this in Genesis 19:37-38?
What does mercy look like? Sometimes, it looks like being forcibly led by the hand to do what we are much disinclined to do, and which others think we are crazy for doing. This world is in continually imminent danger of the fire of God’s wrath, and we are in perpetual danger of losing sight of that.

When we are sluggish or fearful, it is a great mercy if the Lord grabs us by the hand, as it were, and drags us to our duty. We often dislike His means of doing so. Uncomfortable sermons. The rebuke of a friend. Parents/elders who point out our inconsistencies and insist they be addressed. Even the immediate pressing by His Spirit upon our spirits is something that we often resist.

And, yet, in all of this there is not only strong mercy but also gentle. The Lord not only sparing our souls, but leading us to where we might have safety and peace.

The Lord’s rescue of Lot is a picture of all of these things to us. It answers the question, “What does God’s mercy sometimes look like?” And Genesis 19:29 answers another question, “Why is it that God shows us such mercy?”  Because He remembers the Mediator. In this case, it is rather specifically Abraham. But, we know that ultimately, it is Christ—that seed of Abraham through whom the promise comes true that in him all the families of the earth are blessed. It was on the basis of that promise that Abraham interceded for Lot, in union with Christ. And it is upon the basis of that promise that we who are united to Christ may intercede for others, or even for ourselves!

When we cry, “in wrath remember mercy!” (cf. Habakkuk 3:2), we are really crying out, “In wrath, remember Christ!” 
Which difficult mercies have you received? Which are you currently rejecting?
Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Heathen Nations Rage” or TPH385 “The Lord Will Come”

Friday, October 11, 2019

2019.10.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 19:17-30

Questions from the Scripture text: What was Jesus carrying in John 19:17? Where? What happens to him in John 19:18? What did Pilate write and put on the cross (John 19:19)? Who read it (John 19:20)? How? Who complained about this (John 19:21)? What did Pilate answer (John 19:22)? What were the soldiers doing in John 19:23-24? Why did this happen? Who else was there (John 19:25)? Who saw each of them (John 19:26)? What did He do for them (John 19:26-27)? What did Jesus know in John 19:28? What did He say? Why (cf. Psalm 22:15)? What wine did they lift to him in John 19:29? What did He do with it (John 19:30a)? What did He say then? What did He do then (verse 30b)? 
Our passage begins with Jesus carrying His cross to Golgotha and ends with Jesus dismissing His spirit from Golgotha. Other gospels mention that He was forced to carry His cross, but the picture here is of Christ being in control, even though others seem to be.

Pilate, we know, feels completely out of control. What he wants to do is release Jesus (cf. John 19:12), and he is more than a little suspicious that Jesus is an actual, other-worldly King (cf. John 18:37-38, John 19:7-8). The chief priests are pathetically not in control in John 19:19-22. Mary and John look on helplessly in John 19:26.

But Jesus is in control.

He bears His own cross in John 19:17. His true title is put upon His cross in John 19:19. Even the gambling over His tunic occurs because His Word is in control (John 19:24).

He makes it clear that it is He who cares for Mary through John and who cares for John through Mary.

John 19:28 almost sounds like checking off a to-do list. Everything else has been done but the thirsting.

And the drink that He is given is the drink that a Roman soldier would get coming off of duty. Interestingly, while Jesus had earlier refused the drink that would numb the pain, here He takes it—even though He is about to dismiss His spirit. The only thing He does with the refreshment is announce His job to be well done.

Then, of course, He is also the One who dismisses His own spirit unto His Father (cf. Luke 23:46).

This is not the death of an itinerant rebel-preacher whose enemies finally caught up with Him. It is the death of a Kingly Champion, laying down His own life, according to His own Word, in His own loving mercy.
Who seem to be in control over your life? Who is really in control? What difference does this make?
Suggested songs: ARP22A “My God, My God” or TPH22A “My God, My God, O Why Have You”

Thursday, October 10, 2019

2019.10.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 3:10-12

Questions from the Scripture text: “Of what” are the first group mentioned in Galatians 3:10? What is the condition of those who are “of the works of the law”? Whom does Deuteronomy 27:26 say are cursed? How many people were ever justified this way (Galatians 3:11)—and therefore how many who are “of the law” are cursed? How is it that the just live (cf. Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, Hebrews 10:38)? What is the law not of (Galatians 3:12)? What kind of justification does the law offer (cf. Leviticus 18:5; Romans 10:5)?
You might have heard someone say that the Old Testament was a religion of the works of the law, while the New Testament is a religion of faith in Jesus Christ. Maybe that’s even something you still slip into thinking. Although the apostles’ opponents taught this, nothing could be further from the truth.

In the previous passage, the apostle had dealt with their claim to be the sons of Abraham. Actually, he said, it is believers who bear the family resemblance to Abraham, and believers who share in the family inheritance with Abraham.

Now, he deals with their claim to be the followers of the Old Testament. “Not the Old Testament that I’m reading,” says the apostle. Quoting from Deuteronomy, Habakkuk, and Leviticus, he shows that the Old Testament taught the very thing that he has been teaching: if you’re hoping that the works of the law are going to make you right with God or foster spiritual life, you’ll find out that you end up cursed by the very thing in which you hoped. That kind of justification or life always required—and never been able to deliver—perfect, personal, perpetual obedience.

So, did the Old Testament ever offer hope of being just (right with God) or alive? Well, yes—by faith (just as the apostle has been teaching)! So, it is the gospel of righteousness and life through believing in Jesus Christ that produces true offspring of Abraham. And, it is the gospel of righteousness and life through believing in Jesus Christ that is what the Old Testament truly teaches.

From cover to cover, the Bible teaches a religion of grace. Being made right with God only by the merit of what Jesus has done, only through the instrument of believing in Him. And having spiritual life for the good that we do in response only through that same faith by which we were made just.

Ironically, those who accuse the Old Testament of teaching a religion of works align themselves not with Jesus and Paul, but with the Pharisees and Judaizers who opposed them. For us who hold to a religion of faith that rests entirely upon Jesus Christ, the entire Bible is ours!
What are you depending upon to make you right with God? What are you depending upon to enable you to obey the Lord? Where in the Bible can you learn about that kind of righteousness and life?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH130A “Lord, from the Depths”

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

2019.10.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Judges 19

Read Judges 19
Questions from the Scripture text: With what comment does v1 introduce “those days”? Who takes a concubine in Judges 19:1? What does Judges 19:2 call her for leaving him to return to her father’s house? What does the Levite go to Bethlehem to do in Judges 19:3? What kind of response does he get from the gal’s dad? What does the father-in-law keep doing when the Levite wants to leave (Judges 19:4-9)? What eventually happens on the fifth day (Judges 19:10)? What is the problem in Judges 19:11a? What is the servant’s solution? What is the Levite’s complaint against Jebus (Judges 19:12)? Where do they end up (Judges 19:13-15)? Why do they end up in the open square? Who finally takes them in (Judges 19:16-21)? What is the one thing that the old man is concerned to keep the Levite and his concubine from doing (Judges 19:20)? Who surround the house to make a very wicked demand (Judges 19:22, cf. Genesis 19:5)? How does the old man respond (Judges 19:23-24, cf. Genesis 19:6-8)? But what does his guest end up doing (Judges 19:25a)? And what do the men of the city then do (verse 25b)? When did the woman return (Judges 19:26)? What has happened to her (Judges 19:26-28)? By what method does her husband send news of what was done (Judges 19:29-30)?
The parallels between Judges 19 and Genesis 19 are obvious. Welcome to Gibeah, or as the observant reader might call it, “New Sodom.” Long term, chapters like this are intended to make us ache for King Jesus. Judges 19:1 introduces the account to us by saying “there was no king in Israel.” But, an honest look at the rest of Israel’s history tells us that the kings whom they end up receiving don’t bring an answer to the wickedness problem.

Short term, the verse reminds us that the civil magistrate is ordained by God for the punishing of evil; and where the sword is not used for that purpose (cf. Romans 13:1-4, 1 Peter 2:13-14), wickedness increases unchecked. The current society in which we live is a sad testament to this truth.

With respect to both of these things—the need for King Jesus’s return to put an end to sin once for all, and the need for civil magistrates to employ the sword in punishing evil—it is particularly shocking to notice where we are in Judges 19. Judah. Benjamin. Bethlehem. Gibeah. These are supposed to be the safe places. Like the Levite said to his servant, it’s not like this is “a city of foreigners, who are not of the children of Israel” (Judges 19:12).

Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he falls. Even in the church, the slide away from the Lord can produce the most horrifyingly wicked results. Many churches have made this slide in some of our lifetimes. Even righteous Lot—or a godly and hospitable old man, or a conscientious Levite, or any of us—is susceptible to the great sin of exposing dear ones to the wickedness of the world out of some sincere but mixed-up logic.

We must be constantly vigilant—both employing God’s means and resting upon God’s mercy—against sliding into sin. Otherwise, we may find ourselves saying, “No such deed has been done or seen among the people of God—Consider it, take counsel, and speak up!”
What means has God appointed for keeping you from sliding into sin?
Suggested Songs: ARP119W “Lord, Let My Cry before You Come” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

2019.10.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 46

Read Psalm 46
Questions from the Scripture text: Who is our refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1a)? What else is He (verse 1b)? What, therefore, won’t we do (Psalm 46:2a)? When (verse 2b)? And when else (verse 2c)? And when (Psalm 46:3a)? And when (verse 3b)? What was one event when these things literally happened? What water from Psalm 46:4 is not water of judgment? Whose city does this river make glad? What else does verse 4 call this city? Who is in the midst of her (Psalm 46:5a)? What does this keep from happening to her? Who helps her (verse 5b)? When? What happened when the nations raged (Psalm 46:6a)? What happened when the Lord just uttered His voice (verse 6b)? Who is with us (Psalm 46:7aPsalm 46:11a)? What is our refuge (verses 7b and 11b)? What are we encouraged to do (Psalm 46:8a)? In this case, what works specifically are we to behold ? And Psalm 46:9? What are these raging and warring nations commanded to do (Psalm 46:10a)? Who wins this battle for supremacy among the nations (verse 10b)? In all the earth (verse 10c)?  
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin all came from Psalm 46. Here is a great Psalm of confidence in the Lord. If God is our refuge—where we go to be safe—and our strength, … then what danger should really cause us to fear?

Really, there is only one that comes close. The judgment and wrath of God Himself. This is the danger that removes the earth. This is the danger that casts mountains into the sea. The flood (and the burning of fire at the return of Christ) are utterly terrifying.

But think about the flood. Who, in the flood, had God as his refuge and strength. To whom was God the present help in trouble? This is the great safety of Noah. Not the ark. But Him who is causing the devastation, destruction, and desolation beneath the ark.

Did you catch that in Psalm 46:8? “Come, behold the works of the Lord.” What works? “Who had made desolations in the earth.” The world-destroying power of God is actually a comfort to those who know that this world-destroying power is for them, not against them.

If by having God as our refuge, we have faced down God’s own wrath, then what have we to fear from men, and governments, and armies, and nations? There were plenty of those in place, when the earth had been “filled with violence” in Genesis 6, and God destroyed them all with one great stroke. Just so—it can be fearful when nations rage and kingdoms move. But our God’s power is such that the mere uttering of His voice makes the earth to melt!

“Yahweh of Hosts” is a name that highlights this. Not only is He the Creator of all, so that everything depends upon Him, but one of the things that He created are the angel armies—the hosts—that are under His command. But He is not just our God of unlimited power, He is our God of amazing grace!

“God of Jacob” is a name that highlights this. He doesn’t use the name “Israel” that covenant name of faith. No, there is plenty of “Jacob” left in believers in this life. That name, of course, highlighted how Jacob was a heel-grasper, who from the womb lived by his wits: manipulating, tricking, and stealing however he could to get his way. This was anything but a man of faith.

No, God does not shrink from identifying Himself with people who need such grace as we do. He is a God of amazing grace!
What current situations seem most difficult? How will you remember God’s power in it? 
Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge” or TPH46A “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength”

Monday, October 07, 2019

2019.10.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 15:25-32

Questions from the Scripture text: Who was in the field (Luke 15:25)? What did he hear as he neared the house? Whom did he ask about this (Luke 15:26)? What does the servant say his father has done (Luke 15:27)? How does the older brother respond (Luke 15:28)? And how does his father respond to that? What does the son say that he has done (Luke 15:29)? What does he say that he has not done? What does he say that his father has not done (that the son, apparently, wanted most)? What does he call his brother (Luke 15:30)? How does he describe what his brother did? What does the father present to the older brother as his first great blessing (Luke 15:31)? What does he present as his second? What does the father say about their making merry and being glad (Luke 15:32)? What does he say was the younger brothers previous condition? What does he say is the younger brother’s current condition?   
What do your responses to others tell you about your own heart toward God?

The parable of the lost son is the climax in a three-parable answer to the Pharisees and scribes who were so offended that Jesus receives sinners and eats with them. Grievously, they thought of themselves as “righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7). But there was an even deeper problem behind this twisted view of themselves…

May God be merciful to us to keep us from ever thinking of ourselves in this life as those who need no repentance! On the one hand, we would become those who are haughty toward those whose sins are more obvious—responding with disgust at the idea of reaching out to them, calling them to repentance, and receiving them when they do.

But what lies on the other hand is even worse. If we feel ourselves to be the righteous who need no repentance, we will miss the amazingness of God’s grace to us, and fail to respond with joy over the fact that He is always with us, and all the He has is ours (Luke 15:31).

A judgmentally closed heart toward the vilest of sinners may be the presenting symptom of the disease, but the ungratefully closed heart toward God is its mortal symptom. Such dead, unforgiven, ungracious hearts may aim at much obedience (Luke 15:29), but primarily as a way of getting from God what it wants—every other blessing than Him Himself.

How very different this is from our True Older Brother, the Lord Jesus! In His divine nature, the Father and the Spirit are His everlasting joy from before time began. And this is also true for Him in time, in His perfect human nature. He loves to speak what He hears from the Father. He loves to do what He receives from His Father to do. For the greatness of the JOY set before Him—the glory of the Father, and declaring of His Father’s praise—He counted the shame of the cross as a small thing.

O that His joy would become our joy—and that we might have it to the full!
How does your heart respond to the idea of reaching out to the vilest sinners?
Suggested Songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH340 “There Is a Fountain”

Saturday, October 05, 2019

2019.10.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 15:25-32

Questions from the Scripture text: Who was in the field (Luke 15:25)? What did he hear as he neared the house? Whom did he ask about this (Luke 15:26)? What does the servant say his father has done (Luke 15:27)? How does the older brother respond (Luke 15:28)? And how does his father respond to that? What does the son say that he has done (Luke 15:29)? What does he say that he has not done? What does he say that his father has not done (that the son, apparently, wanted most)? What does he call his brother (Luke 15:30)? How does he describe what his brother did? What does the father present to the older brother as his first great blessing (Luke 15:31)? What does he present as his second? What does the father say about their making merry and being glad (Luke 15:32)? What does he say was the younger brothers previous condition? What does he say is the younger brother’s current condition?
What do we consider our greatest blessing? Is it to be with our Father? To know that all that He has is ours?

We’d love to tell ourselves that this is so, so let us be careful that we would seek out time with Him, to be content with what we have, and to have heart priorities that reflect His priorities.

When the older brother lodges his complaint—that serving and obeying dad was miserable to him, but his friends would make him happy—he exposes his heart. He doesn’t love his father or time with his father. How do we feel about time with our heavenly Father by comparison to worldly friends and festivity?

Also in the older brother’s complaint about the one thing that he defined as good (and that he did not have) was a judgment about all that he did have, and therefore a judgment about the goodness of his father. Doesn’t all discontentment in our own hearts expose a similarly wicked judgment on our part? Discontentment says, “My heavenly Father is not being so good to me as He could be, but if He would just do this thing that I have come up with, that I have defined as good, then He would be doing better.” Horrors! God save us from discontentment!

Finally, within the parable as a whole, we see a symptom of such a low esteem of God’s fellowship and God’s goodness: hard-heartedness toward others. If we are so wicked as to view God as hard toward us, we will be hard on others. If we are so proud as to think that God owes us for our service and obedience, then we will begrudge any good that comes to someone else. This was the real problem of the Pharisees. This was the real problem of the older brother. And, if our hearts are not rejoicing at the idea of God restoring the wicked to Himself, then this is our real problem too. God make us rejoice at God’s mercy to the wicked!
Whom are you tempted to wish ill upon? How can you foster joy at the hope of their repenting?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH340 “There Is a Fountain”

Friday, October 04, 2019

2019.10.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 18:12-19:16

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom do they take Jesus first (John 18:12-14)? Who were still following (John 18:15-16)? What does Peter do three times in John 18:17-18John 18:25-27? What testimony does Pilate give of Jesus in John 18:38John 19:4, and John 19:6? What does the crowd cry out in John 18:40? And in John 19:4-6? And in John 19:12-16)? What testimony does Jesus give about Himself in John 18:20-21, and John 18:23? What testimony does He give of Himself in John 18:36-37? What testimony does He give about Him and His death in John 19:11?  
Taking this entire section together allows us to see three different kinds of unfaithful responses to Christ.

Three times, Peter denies the Savior that he knows and loves. Three times, Pilate declares the truth about Jesus—that there is no fault in Him—but ultimately gives into the crowd. And as for the crowd (manipulated by the chief priests and pharisees), three times they express a murderous desire to see Christ executed.

By comparison, the Lord Jesus confesses the good testimony about Himself three times (cf. 1 Timothy 6:13). He has spoken what was good, doing so publicly and clearly (John 18:20-23). He is God from all eternity who entered this world in time to be the King of an eternal kingdom that is above this world, not from it (John 18:36-37). And, while He is dying at the hands of the wicked, who will be judged for their wickedness, this is happening under the authority of God above, who has planned this death for good.

Wonderfully, while we are not sure what comes of Pilate (though the early spiritual returns are encouraging), we do know that there are those who are saved from the other two groups.

We could easily forget that other than the disciple who has an “in” at the high priest’s household, Peter is the only one who follows Christ even this far. The others will also need strengthening, which Jesus has charged Peter with doing (cf. Luke 22:32). But look how these disciples who failed Christ were ultimately restored by Him and used by Him! He who confessed the good confession about Himself went to the cross for our failures and restores and strengthens us by His resurrection power!

Perhaps even more remarkably, it is precisely these who have so rabidly called for Christ’s death who are the objects of the first great sermon at Pentecost. And thousands of them are saved! Behold the power of the preaching of the Word. Behold the completeness of Christ’s atonement for sin, such that even this forgiveness is guaranteed to all who repent and believe.

So, yes, this passage does set before us three different kinds of wrong response to Christ as a warning. But the heart of the passage is Christ Himself. His perfect testimony about Himself. His commitment to dying for us, though He is the perfectly righteous King. And how there is salvation for all who turn from any kind of wrong response, repenting and believing in Jesus Christ for salvation.
How have you failed Christ? How has He succeeded in your place? How does He remind you of this and direct your attention to Himself and His perfections?
Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song” or TPH457 “Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness”