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, July 27, 2019

2019.07.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 15:7-21

Questions for Littles: Whom did the Word of Yahweh say that He was in Genesis 15:7? What did He say that He had done? What did He promise that He would do? What does Abram ask in Genesis 15:8? What does the Word tell Abram to bring Him in Genesis 15:9? What does He tell him to do to them in Genesis 15:10? What three things fall upon Abram in Genesis 15:12? What bad news does God give Abram in Genesis 15:13? What good news in Genesis 15:14? What good news in Genesis 15:15? What reason does Genesis 15:16 give for why this is going to take so long? What pass between the animal pieces in Genesis 15:17? What does Genesis 15:18 say was happening? What was God binding Himself to do in Genesis 15:18-21
There is a sense in which Genesis 15:8 seems disrespectful. If the Word of Yahweh has just told you something, then you shouldn’t question whether or not it’s true. But it’s more complex than that.

First, Abram is someone who wants to believe but can’t. I think that many of us believers can identify with him in that. We hear what God says. We agree on an intellectual level that it must be true. But we just can’t bring ourselves to know—know that it’s true.

Second, and more importantly, rather than criticize Abram for his unbelief, the Word of Yahweh stoops down to help him believe. God gives Abram a covenant ceremony. Ordinarily, the two who were entering into the covenant would cut those animals into two and separate them, and then as the blood mixed in between, they would walk back and forth between them while stating the obligations of each side—as if to say, “let the one who fails to meet his obligations end up like one of these animals.”

But Yahweh won’t let Abram participate. Abram wants to do what he can. He shoos away vultures. But God puts Abram into a deep sleep. We’ve seen this once before. God is saying, “you are going to be as uninvolved in making this covenant as father Adam was uninvolved in making the woman.” Then God Himself passes between the animals (smoking oven, Genesis 15:17) with… God Himself (burning torch, verse 17)! It will all depend upon God.

Abram was a man who wanted to believe but was having difficulty. And God wanted him to believe and overcame that difficulty by a display of God Himself being the one to secure it by His own blood covenant.

Today, you and I have something even stronger. When our hearts are having difficulty laying hold of some great promise, we have a Lord who wants us to be able to believe. And we can look back to a day where God not only displayed Himself as making a blood covenant, but a day when God had become a man to die in order to permanently secure that blood covenant. The amazing certainty that we have comes especially from the fact that Jesus, who died to secure all our covenant blessings, has risen again, and sits even now on the throne of heaven.

We ought to believe just from the Word. But when we can’t, we can look to Him to point our hearts to the certainty of the death and resurrection of Jesus. And make us to know-know!
Can you strengthen your own faith? How does God point you to the cross and resurrection?
Suggested Songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge” or TPH435 “Not What My Hands Have Done”

Friday, July 26, 2019

2019.07.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 15:9-17

Questions for Littles: Who has loved Jesus (John 15:9a)? Whom has Jesus loved (verse 9b)? In what does Jesus tell His disciples to abide (verse 9c)? What does He give as the way of abiding in His love (John 15:10a)? How had Jesus been abiding in His Father’s love (verse 10b)? What is Jesus aiming at in saying these things to them (John 15:11)? As they abide in Jesus’s love, to whom are they to respond with that same love (John 15:122)? What does Jesus say is the greatest love (John 15:13)? How can we tell who are Jesus’s friends (John 15:14)? What does He no longer call the disciples (John 15:15)? Why not? Who chose whom (John 15:16)? For what three purposes (in verse 16) did He choose them? What summary command does He give them for what this bearing of fruit looks like (John 15:17)? 
How would you like to be “full of joy”? Many ache to be full of joy. To many more, it does not even occur to them that this is possible, or perhaps they cannot even wrap their minds around what that could mean. But what if you could be full not only of joy as some conceive it, but full of a joy that was of an unsurpassable quality—the joy of Jesus Himself.

Our ears perk up when we hear John 15:11, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may abide in you, and that your joy may be full.” Wait… we can become the dwelling place—the home address—for Jesus’s joy? The place where His joy persists? How?! “These things I have spoken to you…”

Jesus has already been talking about how His Father uses His words’ abiding in us to make us bear much fruit (John 15:7-8). Now, we find a big part of that fruit: loving one another. Jesus the Master is now Jesus the Friend who tells us what He’s up to (John 15:15): laying down His life for His friends (John 15:13-14).

The Father has commanded this, and Jesus is living in His Father’s love, which means He eagerly obeys His Father’s will. Now Jesus is giving us a command: if we are going to be living in Jesus’s love, then we will be eagerly obeying Jesus’s will (John 15:10John 15:14). What’s His will? To absolutely every possible good for those whom He loves (John 15:12).

Abiding in Jesus, abiding in Jesus’s words, abiding in Jesus’s love (John 15:16) … at the center of all of these is loving one another. And the Father has committed Himself to giving whatever is necessary to produce this enduring fruit (verse 16c, cf. John 15:2John 15:8)!
Whom has Jesus given you to love? What is the most important way to do this?
Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

Thursday, July 25, 2019

2019.07.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 1:6-10

Questions for Littles: What does the apostle marvel at in Galatians 1:6? From whom are they turning away? What has God done for them? In what has He called them? To what are they turning? Is it really even a gospel (Galatians 1:7a)? How are they being turned? What are these troublers doing to the gospel (verse 7b)? What does Paul say about any who preach “another” gospel alongside the one that Paul had already preached to them (Galatians 1:8)? What about if it is Paul himself who does this? What about if it is an angel from heaven? What does Galatians 1:9 do, following verse 8? Whom is Paul not trying to please 
(Galatians 1:10)? Whom is he trying to please? Whose bondservant is he? 
The apostle is surprised, shocked even. We want to know—what is so surprising that it shocked even the apostle Paul? That someone should turn away. That they should commit treason. That they who had begun well should “so soon” (Galatians 1:6) be turning away. The gospel is so good. How could someone turn from it? Let us learn to be wary of ourselves and not think that what befell these Galatians could never happen to us. Would we be shocked for ourselves to turn away? Would we be surprised? The apostle Paul was surprised. This was the surprise of the Galatians’ turning.

Then there is the seriousness of the Galatians’ turning. What they are turning to was a different gospel (though the apostle explains that this was not a gospel at all—there IS no other). But look closely at what it was that they were turning from. It’s a what question with a Whom answer. They were turning from Him who called you. They were turning from a Person. What Person? God Himself. God who had planned to love and save sinners from all eternity. God who sent Christ to live and die in their place, when what they deserved was not mercy but Hell. God who had put that Hell on His Son. God who had then “called you in the grace of Christ.” What a God of love and mercy and power and forgiveness!! To turn from the gospel of Christ isn’t just to “nuance one’s theology.” It is to turn from God! That’s the seriousness of the Galatians’ turning.

Finally, there is the severe penalty of the Galatians’ turning. What is at stake is eternal punishment. Paul cares to be approved of God (Galatians 1:10) because the alternative is to come under God’s condemnation (anathema/accursed—Galatians 1:8-9). The stakes for the Paul are very high. For those who preach a counterfeit gospel—and the closer the counterfeit the more dangerous!—there is literally Hell to pay. And so too for any who believe the counterfeit, since without God and His grace in Christ, Hell has not been paid, and must be paid forever!
What has God done for sinners? What is at stake for you in getting this right?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace!”

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

2019.07.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Judges 8:33-9:57

Questions for Littles: What did the children of Israel do as soon as Gideon was dead (Judges 8:33)? Whom did they forget (Judges 8:34)? Whom else (Judges 8:35)? Whom did Abimelech, son of the concubine, rally to his side in Judges 9:1-3? Whom did they hire (Judges 9:4)? To do what (Judges 9:5)? Who escaped? Unto what end (Judges 9:6)? In Jotham’s poem-song, what trees would have made good rulers (Judges 9:7-13)? But what did those trees desire to keep doing instead? What tree do they end up getting as king (Judges 9:14-15)? With what does that tree threaten them if they do NOT make him king? Whom does Jotham say this bramble is, and what does Jotham declare upon them for that (Judges 9:19-21)? Why (Judges 9:16-18)? How long did it take for things to go south between Abimelech and the men of Shechem (Judges 9:22-23)? Why did this happen (Judges 9:24)? What did they do (Judges 9:25)? Who became the new leader for the men of Shechem (Judges 9:26-29)? What did he say? Who decided to take Abimelech’s side (Judges 9:30)? What did he do (Judges 9:31-33)? What does Abimelech do with Zebul’s advice (Judges 9:34)? How does Zebul taunt Gaal (Judges 9:35-38)? What happens in the fighting, and how does Shechem end up (Judges 9:39-45)? Where do about a thousand take refuge, and what happens to them (Judges 9:46-49)? Where does this begin to be repeated (Judges 9:51-52)? But how does Abimelech meet his end (Judges 9:53-54)? What sudden resolution occurs (Judges 9:55)? Why such a strange and abrupt end—what had all this accomplished (Judges 9:56-57)?
Oh, what a dangerous thing it is to forget the Lord our God. The bulk of our passage today is about how God repaid the treachery of the men of Shechem, but let us take note of how that treachery began. The people forgot Yahweh. And, since Yahweh had used a man (Gideon, and his family) to save them, this involved also forgetting and despising the man that Yahweh had appointed to use. It is often this way with God’s people—the Lord uses imperfect men, and if we are forgetting the Lord who uses them, how easily we begin to despise them. As this passage shows, that’s no safe condition to be in!

The people’s forgetfulness makes them ripe to be led by Abimelech. It’s instructive to see that he styles himself as a people’s liberator. Those who reject God’s appointed servants often do. And masses of people often follow them. But, God causes things to break down between Abimelech and those he leads, until they end up attacking one another, and he wipes them out. The bramble starts the fire (literally!) that burns up the cedars.

It then looks like it’s going to get worse—is the bramble going to destroy all of Israel?! Nope, a woman drops a stone on his head, and suddenly it’s all over.

A couple of takeaways. First, we are learning in the book of Judges that the threats from within Israel can be just as deadly (and more deadly) than the threats from outside. All it takes is a little forgetting of the Lord, and a little forgetting of the ones through whom (imperfect as they may be) the Lord has intended to lead them. God intended to them much good through the children of Gideon (as symbolized by all the useful trees and their benefits). Oh what devastation may come by means of grumbling, complaining, and refusing to be led through those by whom God intends to do us much good! But we don’t even realize that when we do this, it is the Lord Himself whom we are forgetting (cf. Ephesians 4:8-16).

Second, we are learning that God sees and God responds. This is still true for churches today. There’s the Lord Jesus in the letters to the churches in Revelation saying, “I know this, and this, and this about you… and if you don’t shape up, there will be sad and devastating consequences.”

The summary statement in Judges 9:56-57 won’t let us “forget” that this is really what’s going on in all the interesting twists and turns in this passage. Divine judgment upon His people’s forgetfulness! This judgment itself has a comfort in it for those who continue to cling to God: yes, destroyers arise from among God’s people, but God ultimately destroys the destroyers.
How do we work not to be forgetful of the Lord? In what specific activities?
Suggested songs: ARP119W “Lord, Let My Cry before Your Come” or TPH1A “That Man Is Blest”

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

2019.07.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 90

Read Psalm 90
Questions for Littles: Who wrote this Psalm? Where had the people “dwelt” by the time of Moses (Psalm 90:1)? For how long had this been their dwelling place? Who formed the earth and the world (Psalm 90:2)? For how long has Yahweh been God? Who turns man to destruction (Psalm 90:3)? What does He say when He does so? How many years are mentioned in Psalm 90:4? In whose sight are they like a day? What shorter period are they like (verse 4c)? How does Yahweh sweep away the sons of Adam (Psalm 90:5a)? What else are they like (verse 5b)? How quickly do they appear (verse 5c through Psalm 90:6a)? What else happens to them quickly (verse 6b)? What has consumed the people (Psalm 90:7a)? What has terrified them (verse 7b)? How did this come about—what has God set before Him (Psalm 90:8a)? Which sins in particular does verse 8b mention? With what light have they been exposed from the darkness (verse 8b)? What, then happens, to all men’s days (Psalm 90:9a)? To what does verse 9b compare the finishing of their years? What was an average life span in Psalm 90:10a? How long would someone live to have been thought strong (verse 10b)? But what would even the life of such a strong person seem to have amounted to (verse 10c)? Why—what soon happens to them (verse 10d)? What does Psalm 90:11a indicate is extremely powerful? How big does verse 11b say that God’s wrath is? What are we to learn to do in comparison to God’s eternity and wrath (Psalm 90:12a)? From whom can we learn to do this? What will it give us (verse 12b)? What is the second petition in this psalm (Psalm 90:13a)? What, specifically, is he asking Yahweh to return to do (verse 13c)? What is the third petition (Psalm 90:14a)? With what, specifically, does he pray that we would be satisfied? What effect would this have upon us (verse 14b, cp. Psalm 90:9)? What does he ask Yahweh to do in Psalm 90:15a? If they do receive this mercy, then what specifically would increase the measure of their new gladness (verse 15a-b)? What would Yahweh be showing them in such a case (Psalm 90:16a)? What else (verse 16b)? Of what would His people themselves become a display (Psalm 90:17a)? What will He do as a result of the given mercy and show of this display of beauty (verse 17b-c)?
By answering the questions above, you will find that the Psalm itself walks us straightforwardly to its conclusion. We are the children of Adam (Psalm 90:3, literally translated), and therefore we die. The longest any of his children had ever lived was about a thousand years—compared in this psalm to a single night watch (Psalm 90:4).

Why? Because we are sinners. We deserve wrath. Nothing can possibly be hidden from God. The infinitely brilliant light of His countenance exposes even our most secret sins (Psalm 90:8).

Therefore, our only hope is His compassion (Psalm 90:13) and mercy (Psalm 90:14). When He gives us a joy that comes not from having our earthly desires satisfied for a handful of years, but from being delivered from the wrath that shortened our years to begin with—then, our joy is commensurate with the greatness of the wrath and judgment that we originally deserved (Psalm 90:15)!

But we don’t have to wait until eternity to begin receiving a joy that is as big as that eternity. As we begin to live in the light of God’s favor, and He becomes the firmness of our work, we begin to see that He is always the One working (Psalm 90:16a), that His aim is not to make us look great but rather to have us look at His greatness (verse 16b), that when we are beautiful it will be with His beauty for all to see Him as glorious (Psalm 90:17a).
Is God the greatness of your life? Or are you passing your years as a sigh?
Suggested songs: ARP90B “O Teach Us How” or TPH222 “O God Our Help in Ages Past”

Monday, July 22, 2019

2019.07.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 15:1-6

Questions for Littles: What came to Abram and when (Genesis 15:1)? What did He tell Abram NOT to do? What two things did He promise to be unto Abram? What reason does Abram give in Genesis 15:2 for this not being as good news to him as it could be? What does Abram say that God has not given him (Genesis 15:3)? What is said (again!) to come to Abram in Genesis 15:4? What does Yahweh say about Eliezer? What does He say about the one who will be Abram’s heir? Where does the Lord bring Abram in Genesis 15:5? Where does He tell Abram to look? What does He tell Abram to try to do? What does He say to Abram about his ability to number the stars? How does Abram respond to Yahweh in Genesis 15:6? What is accounted to Abram through this believing?    
“What can You give me?” The question seems almost blasphemous. Not only was God the One who had made the promise, but what He had promised was Himself.

You see, Abram has a problem. He is going to die. And when he does—at least at this point in his life—the man who would inherit all that he has is Eliezer of Damascus.

From the way Abram puts Genesis 15:3, it sounds as if he is saying “if You had given me offspring, then it would be a part of me that kept on enjoying that ‘exceedingly great reward’ that You’ve just promised.” Indeed, this is confirmed by the Word of Yahweh says, “one who will come from your own body” in Genesis 15:4.

But there’s a promise here about that One, and a separate promise about the many. The Word takes Abram outside and has him count the stars—how very many there would have been! And He says “so shall your descendants be.” But aren’t these going to die too?

Yes, but there is One who will not have the same problem. The bigger part of the promise is the part in verse 4. There is ONE who will be your heir. There is ONE in whom you (and, by the way, alllllll of these descendants) will inherit. There is ONE in whom you will have ME as your strength and your exceedingly great reward. There is ONE in whom even death itself will be unable to take this from you.

And Abram believed God about that one (Genesis 15:6; cf. Romans 4, Galatians 3:6, James 2:23). And he was made righteous before God, and received God Himself as his shield and reward.
When are you going to die? Do you have a shield that is stronger than death?
Suggested Songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH459 “My Hope Is Built”