Each week we webcast Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, morning public worship at 11a, and p.m. singing and sermon at 2:30p (sermon at 3:30); and the Weds. Prayer Meeting at 6:30p

Saturday, June 08, 2019

2019.06.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 12:1-3

Questions for Littles: Who is speaking to whom in Genesis 12:1? From where does He tell Abram to leave? Whom does He tell him to leave? What does He tell him to leave? To where does He tell him to go? Into what does Yahweh promise to make him (Genesis 12:2)? What does He promise to do to him? What does He promise to do to Abram’s name? What does He promise to do through Abram? Whom does Yahweh promise to bless (Genesis 12:3)? Whom does He promise to curse? Which families of the earth will find their blessing in him?
This blessing is an extraordinary explosion of grace. There is no evident reason for God’s choosing to show it. As we recently heard from Joshua 24, Terah and Abram and Nahor were idolaters in Ur of the Chaldeans. In fact, the only distinguishing characteristic of Abram so far is that he hasn’t begotten anybody. Everyone else has, but Abram’s wife is barren.

Well, Abram’s qualifications may be small—non-existent, really. But the promise itself is massive. It’s one thing to have a promise that starts out with making him into a great nation. It’s a whole other level to promise that he will be the one through whom all the families of the earth will find their blessing.

Of course, this too is a reminder that God is selective. For, it’s not every last member of every family on earth that will be blessed. Genesis 12:3 plainly says that some will be cursed. In fact, up to this very day in history, the vast majority have fallen  into the “cursed” category. For, they have indeed rejected great Abram’s greater Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Many, indeed, of his own descendants according to the flesh have done so. That’s not new. The apostle wrestled with that reality in Romans 9-11.

So, God’s unmerited, totally gracious, totally free election is on spectacular display in bringing only some to faith in Jesus And, this same unmerited, gracious, freely electing love is on spectacular display in choosing Abram to be the one through whom the Lord brings Jesus into the world.

But what is it to which they (and we, if we are believers) have been elected? Primarily to lose everything else in order to have the Lord Himself. To count the Lord as more than everything else put together.

Abram is told to leave country. To leave family. To leave the established foundation and heritage of his father’s house. To lose his inheritance. To go where? “The land that I will show you.” That’s not even a place! It’s not so much a destination as it is a location in the presence of a Person.

Of course, the promises include regaining what is lost many times over, but those things are not to be immediately obtained. At first, all Abram will have is the Lord Himself. Seek first the kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. That’s what He was called to then. That’s what believers have been called to ever since. That’s what you are called to now.
What have you lost for Christ? What have you gained? Whose idea was this to begin with?
Suggested Songs: ARP181 “God Our Only Good” or TPH234 “The God of Abram Praise”

Friday, June 07, 2019

2019.06.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 13:18-30

Questions for Littles: Has Jesus been saying that all His disciples were clean (John 13:18)? What does He say that He knows—how had they come to be clean? What does Jesus say must be fulfilled from Psalm 41:9? When is He telling them about His betrayal (John 13:19)? Why did He tell them this—what will it accomplish, when it comes about? Whom does Jesus say someone receives, if he receives one of His apostles (John 13:20)? Whom else do they receive? What does Jesus say more plainly in John 13:21? What do the disciples do to one another in John 13:22? About what are they perplexed? What was one of the disciples doing in John 13:23? Who tells that disciple to ask (John 13:24)? In what posture is John, when he asks (John 13:25)? Whom does Jesus say the betrayer is in John 13:26a? To whom does He give the bread (verse 26b)? Who enters Judas at that point (John 13:27a)? What does Jesus say to him (verse 27b)? What did the disciples (amazingly) still not know in John 13:28? What did some of them think Jesus was telling Judas to do (John 13:29)? What did Judas do (John 13:30)? When? With what comment does verse 30 end?
It’s a good thing that the Lord Jesus is in total control, because the disciples are pretty clueless, and none of us has good reason to think that we would have fared better.

Jesus is in control of whom He makes clean. He knows whom He has chosen (John 13:18).

Jesus is in control of who betrays him. He literally gives the bread in John 13:26 to fulfill the quotation of Psalm 41:9 in verse 18.

Jesus is even sovereign over Satan, who apparently has to wait for the cue in John 13:27.

Jesus is in control of the timing, as He shows by the command of verse 27.

He had said earlier that “the night comes when no one can work” (John 9:4). But Jesus is doing some of His best work, “and it was night” (John 13:30).

The disciples? They’re perplexed (John 13:22). Even the one literally laying his head on Jesus’s chest doesn’t seem to get it. At least Peter realized that he’d filled his “speaking out of turn” quota for the moment (cf. John 13:6John 13:8, and John 13:9). But, he would certainly pick it up soon. Then, when Jesus had just told them that He was identifying Judas as the betrayer, they thought that maybe he was leaving on some important diaconal mission.

For our part, we can be thankful that Jesus is in control. No one takes His life from Him. He lays it down of His own accord. He has authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. And, He knows exactly for whom He lays it down: His sheep.
How does it help you to know that Jesus is in control of your spiritual life?
What other situations in life right now are you most glad that He is in control?
Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH280 “Wondrous King, All Glorious”

Thursday, June 06, 2019

2019.06.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 11:16-33

Questions for Littles: What does the apostle think of boasting (2 Corinthians 11:16)? What action on the apostle’s part is not part of “imitate me as I imitate Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:17)? According to what do many boast (2 Corinthians 11:18)? And who has been putting up with them (2 Corinthians 11:19)? But into what are those boasters bringing the Corinthians who listen to them (2 Corinthians 11:20)? What are they bold to do the Corinthians? Who hadn’t been bold enough in the past (2 Corinthians 11:21a)? How will he be now (verse 21b)? What credentials does the apostle present in 2 Corinthians 11:22? What counter-intuitive credentials in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27? What is a trial to him on top of all of these (2 Corinthians 11:28)? What happens in the churches that bothers him so much (2 Corinthians 11:29)? What does the apostle boast about (2 Corinthians 11:30)? Whom does he call as a witness in 2 Corinthians 11:31? What additional detail do we learn about the escape from Damascus in 2 Corinthians 11:32? How had Paul escaped (2 Corinthians 11:33)?
If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, then boasting is the epitome of folly. You’d have to be a Nimrod to think highly of yourself before the face of Yahweh.

But the Corinthians had been visited by Nimrods-a-plenty, and they had liked it. They were eating up the teaching of the visiting “super-apostles” that were bringing them into the bondage of indulging in sin (cf. Romans 6:16). These fancy preachers were very costly to keep around, arrogant about themselves, abusive to the Corinthians—and such is the way of the proud. Who would want to be like them?

Well… the Corinthians, apparently. You can see a mirror-opposite to their “your best life now” message in Paul’s “boasting.” Yes, he has been given many providential privileges (cf. the list in 2 Corinthians 11:22). But, the story of his true apostleship has been mostly “your best life later” and “how to make enemies and irritate people (2 Corinthians 11:23-27). Yet, rather than treat others badly, he valued them so much that their spiritual condition was a bigger concern to the apostle than all of his own genuinely pressing earthly concerns.

The success story of a believer is not so much that he lives a valiant life, but rather that he rests in, and is devoted to, a valiant Lord. It’s more hiding in baskets than sticking it to bureaucrats. Because the best glory is to know and show Christ Himself as glorious in even the most unimpressive people and difficult situations.

Are you unimpressive, and finding yourself often in difficulty? Congratulations! You are ripe for resting in Christ, being conformed to His own suffering life on earth, and being consumed with His glory to boast about in the midst of your weakness.
Of what are you tempted to be proud? What weakness or trouble has the Lord brought into your life, that you might find Christ glorious instead?
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH435 “Not What My Hands Have Done”

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

190605FW Judg 3:12-31 - The Lord Who Saves in the Icky Details of Life

An example of a family worship teaching time in Judges 3:12-31

2019.06.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Judges 3:12-31

Questions for Littles: What did the children of Israel do (again!) in Judges 3:12? Whom did Yahweh strengthen? Against whom? Why? Whom did Eglon of Moab gather to himself (Judges 3:13)? What did they do? How long did Israel serve Eglon (Judges 3:14)? What did the children of Israel do in Judges 3:15? What did Yahweh do? Whom did Yahweh raise up? Whose son was Ehud? Of what tribe? What other detail does it tell us about him? What did Israel send by his hand? What did Ehud make for himself (Judges 3:16)? What style dagger was it? How long was it? Where did he fasten it? To whom did Ehud bring the tribute (Judges 3:17)? What do we learn about Eglon in verse 17? What did Ehud do, when he had presented the tribute (Judges 3:18)? Where did he go (Judges 3:19)? What did he say he had for the king? What did the king say and do to his attendants? Where were they in Judges 3:20? From whom did Ehud say the message was? What did Ehud do in Judges 3:21? How far did it go in (Judges 3:22)? What came out? How did Ehud make his exit (Judges 3:23)? What had he done to the doors? What did Eglon’s servants think that the king might be doing in Judges 3:24? How long did they wait (Judges 3:25)? What did they find, when they finally opened the door? Where was Ehud by this time (Judges 3:26)? What did he do in Judges 3:27? Where, and to do what, did Ehud lead the children of Israel in Judges 3:28? How many did they kill in Judges 3:29? How long did the land have rest (Judges 3:30)? What judge’s deliverance does Judges 3:31 summarize?
This, at first, seems like a potty room story. Between Eglon covering his feet in the cool room, Saul covering his feet in the cave, and Elijah suggesting that Baal may have gone aside to do the same in 1 Kings 18, we have the beginnings of a potty room theology of salvation. This potty room episode is particularly unmentionable: instead of something coming out of the entrails, by one swift and sneaky move, Ehud performs some lefthanded surgery on the Moabite king, and the entrails themselves come out. The Lord saves, even through the unmentionable parts of life.

That’s encouraging for me to know. Our house has some epic novels in it, and our life includes some dignified moments. But we also have a potty book for the one year old to be “inspired” by, and dignified time is dwarfed by the amount spent on the ramifications of that inspiration. It’s encouraging to know that the Lord’s constant, saving work occurs not just in moments on the top of the mountain but also in the continual slog down in the muck.

Add to this our growing list of interesting weapons. In this chapter we have a homemade, 18-inch, double-edged, concealed-carry dagger, and Shamgar’s ox-goad that would have been eight feet long with a handle on the wide end and a point at the other to show the ox that you meant business. And Judges will present us with several more odd tools of deliverance. But, here too, there is a point being made. The Lord saves by many or by few, by traditional weapons or unique conversation pieces. At the end of the day, it must ultimately be the Lord Himself who saves.

And, that’s the point of the passage, isn’t it? Yahweh is still being Yahweh who saves. Of course, Israel is still being Israel. Doing evil when they feel they can (Judges 3:12). Crying out when they’ve had enough (Judges 3:15). Still no mention of repentance. And they’ll still be being Israel in another 98 years when the Ehud saga is over (cf. Judges 4:1). It’s going to take something more than an Ehud or a Shamgar to bring any change there. The Judges period is serving its purpose in increasing the urgency of our appetite for Christ to be our Redeemer.

But, in the meantime, the Lord is still there. In every detail. Watching. Listening. Delivering. Preserving. Chastening. And also judging and destroying. He is the Lord. To those who don’t belong to Him, in dependence upon Christ and His sacrifice, that should be a terrifying thought. He will never take a break being the Lord who continually acts for the sake of His glory in Jesus. But to weary believers whose lives are more mucky potty room than fine china and ballrooms, it’s a precious reality. He is our Savior in all the tiniest details.
Is the Lord’s continual presence a threat to you or a comfort? In which parts of your life do you most need to remember that He is there watching? That He is there saving?
Suggested songs: ARP139B “Where Can I from Your Spirit Flee?” or TPH250 “I Sing the Almighty Power of God”

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

190604FW Heb 2:10-18 - Knowing and Experiencing Jesus's Likeness to His Brethren

An example of a family worship teaching time in Hebrews 2:10-18

2019.06.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 2:10-18

Questions for Littles: Who is everything for? Who is everything from? Who is bringing many sons to glory? Who perfected Jesus through suffering? Who is the Captain of our salvation? Who makes Christians holy? What is Jesus not ashamed to call us? Who declares God’s Name to us and sings God’s praise in the midst of the church assembly? Who has given us to Jesus as children of God? How does Jesus destroy the devil? Who has helped the descendants of Abraham? Whom did Jesus have to be made like? What kind of High Priest is Jesus? What has He done about His people’s sins? What can He do, since He has been tempted and suffered? Whose name does preaching declare in the church’s worship? Who is declaring God’s name in that preaching? What does He call the people of the church? Whom does Hebrews 2:13 talk about trusting God in the church’s worship? When we come to worship, Who brings us to God? What does He call us, when He presents us with Himself and says, “Here I am…”? Who has given His children to Jesus, in order that Jesus would bring us to worship?   
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Confession of Sin came from Hebrews 2:10-18. We hear in Hebrews 2:10 that it is God who is bringing many sons to glory. And, we hear in Hebrews 2:11 that it is Jesus who is getting us ready for that glory by making us holy. What a blessing to know this! God commands us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. God commands us to put to death our sin. God commands us to walk in a manner worthy of being called Christian.

But God also tells us that Jesus is the One who is making us holy, and that God is the One who has adopted us as His children, and who is bringing us to glory. Can they possibly fail? As Philippians 1:6 says, “being confident of this very thing: that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Finally, and most importantly, we hear in Hebrews 2:17 that Jesus made propitiation for our sins. What does this mean? It means that on the cross, Jesus so completely suffered the wrath of God for our sin, that there is absolutely none of it left for us; it means that the only thing left for us from God is favor. Jesus has completely earned our forgiveness; we cannot earn any of it. Jesus has completely earned our blessing; we cannot earn any of it. He made propitiation for our sins!

God chose who would be saved. God gave us as a gift to Jesus. Jesus paid for all of our sins. Jesus is making us holy for glory. God is bringing us to glory as His children. From start to finish, all of our salvation is from the Lord!

The middle verses of our passage focus upon what we do when we get there. And that is: have a glorious family worship service! Except in glory, it’s not the Father leading family worship. God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the One whom we are worshiping. And the Son is leading that worship!

Jesus had to become a man just like we are, except without sin, in order to save us. And when we believe in Jesus, we are adopted to become children like He is. So, Jesus became flesh and blood like we are. And He was tempted like we are. And He suffered in our place. And we are made sons like He is. And made holy like He is. And we will come to glory as He has.

But our passage says even more than that one day we will be perfected and enter glory. Just like Paul writes to the Ephesians, these verses are also talking about our being seated with Jesus already in the heavenly places (cf. Ephesians 2:6). We are especially able to see this if we compare Hebrews 2:11-13 with Hebrews 12:18-29.

When we obey the command in Hebrews 10:19-25 not to neglect congregational worship, we join the assembly already in glory!

Here is something literally glorious about preaching: Jesus is the One who declares God’s name in the preaching (Hebrews 2:12a)! How very careful the preacher on earth must be to proclaim and apply only what the Scripture says, if Jesus is the preacher from heaven! The preacher must not put his words into Jesus’ mouth, but the other way around.

Here is something literally glorious about congregational singing in worship: Jesus is the one singing God’s praise in the midst of the assembly (verse 12b)! How careful we should be to sing only Christ’s thoughts from Scripture, if He is the singer in our worship! We must not put our words in His mouth, but the other way around.

But how can sinners such as we are appear in glory week by week? Here is something literally glorious about our coming to God in worship: Jesus presents us there in Himself (Hebrews 2:13b), and it is even Jesus’ own faith that is being counted for us while we are there (verse 13a)!
What is Jesus getting you ready for? Why is He doing so? How is He getting you ready? 
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place”

Monday, June 03, 2019

190603FW Gen 11:10-32 - Christ-Driven History and Living

An example of a family worship teaching time in Genesis 11:10-32

2019.06.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 11:10-32

Questions for Littles: Whose genealogy does Genesis 11:10 begin? What happens to the lengths of the lives between Genesis 11:10 and Genesis 11:25? How many sons of each generation are specifically named? How many of Terah’s children are named (Genesis 11:26)? What does Genesis 11:27 begin to tell about? Which grandson does Genesis 11:27 name? Which son dies before his father (Genesis 11:28)? Where? Who take wives in Genesis 11:29? What fact does Genesis 11:30 note about Sarai? Whom does Terah not take with him in Genesis 11:31? From where did they begin? To where were they going? But where did they end up? How many years, total, did Terah live (Genesis 11:32)?    
To some, genealogies may seem boring; but, there are many to whom the study of genealogies is very interesting. It depends, in large part, upon how invested we are in that particular family line. But this genealogy should be interesting to every one of us; because, if we are not personally invested in it, we will perish in our sins. This is because this genealogy is sending us hurtling toward Christ.

Whereas in chapter 10, the genealogy named several children from each generation, this list gives us just one—even though it tells us that the father kept begetting sons and daughters for hundreds of years—the one who takes us a step closer to Jesus Christ.

Why is He so important to us? Well, in part because we deserve to be condemned by God’s justice and punished by God’s wrath. The last time we saw God narrowing the focus to just one family, He literally executed everyone else. We all still deserve it—even the line from Shem to Abram deserves it. But, they are not being wiped off the earth. They are being permitted to build families and cover the earth. The Lord leaves them, because the Lord intends to save them through Christ. Every one of us deserves wrath. We need a Redeemer who can take our guilt away.

Another reason that Jesus is so important to us is that we need a Redeemer stronger than death. The refrain from chapter 5 is missing: and he died… and he died… and he died. But the reality is there and intensifying. The age at death keeps dropping from the 600s to the 400s, 200s, 100s. By Psalm 90:10, Moses will say that man lives 70, maybe 80 years. This death crisis must come to an end! Every one of us will die. We need a redeemer stronger than death.

Finally, we rejoice to read this genealogy, because even as the Scripture takes us toward Christ, it reminds us that in order to reserve the glory for Jesus, God is pleased to use the weak in His plan of salvation. Other genealogies have been those who are impressive from an earthly perspective. This one doesn’t have any such impressiveness to boast. Then, at the end, after all of this begetting, we meet Abram and Sarai. But there’s no begetting for them. The ones from whom will come the Christ have not fertility to offer the Lord but barrenness.

The Lord is pleased to use weakness. All the glory be to God alone!
What do you deserve? How will your life end? What has God done about this? Besides sins of which you must repent, what human weakness do you have to offer God?
Suggested Songs: ARP32A-B “What Blessedness” or TPH435 “Not What My Hands Have Done”