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, August 31, 2019

2019.08.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 17:15-27

Questions for Littles: Who gets a name change in Genesis 17:15? What does God promise to give to Abraham by her in Genesis 17:16? Of what does He promise to make her a mother? What is Abraham’s physical response in Genesis 17:17? What is his verbal response? What does Romans 4:19-21 tell us about his heart while he is doing this? What further request does Abraham make in Genesis 17:18? Whom does God insist upon making the son of promise, through whom the covenant will continue (Genesis 17:19)? What is Abraham to call the son of promise? How long will this covenant continue? Still, how does God respond in Genesis 17:20 to the request in verse 18? When will Sarah bear Isaac (Genesis 17:21)? What happens in Genesis 17:22? How does Abraham respond in Genesis 17:23? On what day? How old was Abraham (Genesis 17:24)? How old was Ishmael (Genesis 17:25)? What does Genesis 17:26 re-emphasize? Who else were circumcised on that day (Genesis 17:27)?
Sarai is the only woman in the Bible to get a name change. Her name is changed from “my princess” to “princess.” No longer will she belong to Abraham alone, but she becomes mother of all the faithful.

How amazing a promise is this? Abraham laughs at it—even though he believes it! We might think (because of what happens with Sarah in the next chapter) that this is an unbelieving response from Abraham, but Romans 4:19-21 gives us the date for this conversation, and tells us that he did not doubt but grew strong in faith. This is not the laughter of unbelief. It is the laughter of one who is overwhelmed at the greatness of what the Lord has just promised to him!

We see not only great laughter but great love. Abraham loves his 13 year old son. He is concerned about what this new son might mean for Ishmael. It seems, from the Lord’s response, that Abraham even wants Ishmael to be the one through whom the covenant will come. This is a wonderful fruit of Abraham’s faith in Jesus—that he would have such affection for a son whom we know (by God’s prophecy) to be such a pain.

And it’s not only Abraham who has covenant love for his son. The Lord does, too. There are reasons to believe that Ishmael was converted. Abraham asked for the Genesis 17:1 status for his teenager—that he would “walk before God.” And God says in Genesis 17:20 that he “has heard” Abraham. In addition to being saved, Ishmael would also be given a certain amount of earthly greatness. Even though he was not to be the one through whom the covenant advanced, the Lord responds to a believing father’s prayers that his son would “walk before Him.”

Ultimately, he is heard for the sake of Isaac’s descendant, our Lord Jesus Christ!
How often are you amazed to the point of laughter for what God has done for you?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH234 “The God of Abraham Praise”

Friday, August 30, 2019

2019.08.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 17:1-5

Questions for Littles: To whom does Jesus now speak, after what He told the disciples in John 16:15-33 (John 17:1)? What does He say has come? Whom does He ask the Father to glorify? For whose glory is the Son’s glory? What has the Father given to the Son (John 17:2)? What does the Son give? To whom? What is this eternal life that the Son gives (John 17:3)? What does verse 3 call God? What does it call Jesus Christ? What has Jesus done unto the Father (John 17:4)? What has He finished? What request does He repeat in John 17:5? What does He specifically mention about the glory here? 
The doctrine of the Trinity is not some extra theology that gets added to Christianity later on. It is at the absolute heart of it.

We like to focus upon ourselves, so we tend to focus upon getting eternal life. Sometimes, people even get upset at the idea that the Lord only intends to give eternal life “to as many as [the Father] has given [the Son].” But there it is in black and white in John 17:2.

Even in His human nature, the Son has authority over all flesh. Where did He get this authority? The Father. For what purpose did the Father give Him this authority? So that He could give eternal life. To whom? Not to all flesh. But only to those whom the Father had given Him.

But what was the purpose of this giving of authority and people? And what is the purpose of giving them eternal life? You have to back up to John 17:1: that the Son might glorify the Father. This has been the entire purpose of Jesus’s mission of preaching and showing that He is the Redeemer-King who has come into the world (John 17:4). And as He goes to the cross, Jesus says that He has finished this work.

But, if no one gets saved. If no one gets sanctified. If no one makes it to heaven. Then the purpose will remain unfulfilled. So Jesus prays, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son.” It is all for the glory of Christ. And it is all by the glory of Christ.

As we see (John 17:5) that Jesus who died for us is the Son who is the glorious God from all eternity, He completes the work in us of applying to us true eternal life: to know the one true God, and to know Jesus Christ—who is the one true God, but who has been sent by the Father for our salvation.
What part does seeking to know the glory of Christ have in your private/family/corporate worship?
Suggested songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken” or TPH212 “Come, Thou Almighty King”

Thursday, August 29, 2019

2019.08.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 2:11-14

Questions for Littles: Who came to Antioch in Galatians 2:11? What did Paul do to him? Why? What had Peter been doing before certain men came (Galatians 2:12)? What did he do when they came? Why the change? Who else was doing this (Galatians 2:13)? Even whom? Who saw this (Galatians 2:14)? What did he recognize was at stake? What did he do? What did he say? 
Holy boldness in confronting error and humility in receiving confrontation are two great rarities in the church today, but we see them in this brief passage.

One of the things that we need to remember is that in every deviation of practice, there is a theological truth at stake. Often, there is some direct connection to the “truth of the gospel” (Galatians 2:14).

In this case, it was that truth that it is not circumcision or uncircumcision that saves, but Christ Himself—in fact, that circumcision was not even a matter of fundamental morality but of ceremonial holiness, being set apart to God as those who looked to Christ. When Christ came, and replaced that sign with baptism, its spiritual usefulness had ended altogether.

What a horror for Paul, then, when those who had one baptism in common were being divided according to circumcision—as if to declare that what Christ had joined together, circumcision could separate!

But Peter was horrified by something else. He wasn’t recognizing the gospel truth that was at stake. He was giving too much weight to what people might think of him. And so when those whom he feared came up from Jerusalem, he broke off table fellowship with the Gentiles.

Paul withstood Peter to his face. That’s no small thing. But this was not some blustery display just for the sake of sticking it to the man. It was not some anti-authority or anti-celebrity stand. It was a stand for truth. The truth of the gospel.

And Peter received the correction well. Later, he would write affectionately about Paul. Paul himself has happily defended his ministry with confidence that Peter would back up that defense. Why would Peter do so? (1) The truth of the gospel was at stake. (2) The work of the Spirit in his heart.

Often, there is significant truth at stake in differences in the church. May the Lord give boldness to them whose duty it is to show and address this. And may the Lord give humility to them who need to be addressed.
Pray that the Lord would give boldness and humility as needed for current differences in the church!
Suggested songs: ARP119W “Lord, Let My Cry Before You Come” or TPH539 “Am I a Soldier…?”

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

2019.08.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Judges 12:8-15

Questions for Littles: Who judged Israel in Judges 12:8? From where did he come? How many sons did he have (Judges 12:9)? How many daughters? How many of his children married? How does this compare to Jephthah? For how long did he judge Israel? But what happened to him eventually (Judges 12:10)? What did they do with the body? Where did they bury him? Who judged Israel in Judges 12:11? From what tribe was he? For how long did he judge Israel? But what happened to him in the end (Judges 12:12)? And what did they do with the body? Where was it buried? Who judged Israel in Judges 12:13? From where was he? How many sons and grandsons did he have (Judges 12:14)? Upon what did they ride? Where have we heard about donkey-riding like this before (cf. Judges 5:10, Judges 10:4)? For how long did he judge Israel? But what happened to him (Judges 12:15)? And what did they do with the body? Where was he buried? Whose mountains does it say these were?
Jair had thirty sons (Judges 10:3-5). Ibzah had sixty, all who married. Abdon had seventy descendants. This is all we are really told about them. They get a couple verses each. Jephthah has one daughter whose marriage he vows away—unlike Samuel who is a male and would be the head of his wife and children (which doesn’t go so well, since his children are wicked), when Jephtah’s daughter is devoted unto the service of Yahweh, she cannot take a second head.

The elimination of Jephthah’s line highlights the strangeness of the Lord’s ways. We might want to jump to the conclusion that these other men did well, or that Israel was at peace, but the text gives us no comment on that. In fact, whereas with other judges, the Scripture specifically told us that the land had enjoyed rest, with these men it does not. The only hint that we have either way is that in “the land of Ephraim” there are still “mountains of the Amalekites.” Let us be careful drawing conclusions from the Lord’s differing providence to us and others. It may not mean anything more than that the Lord is free to do as He pleases, and that His wisdom is often unintelligible to our finite minds.

What do we know? Their lines multiplied. That’s all the text tells us. Oh, and that they died. And that they were buried. Their leadership couldn’t continue, because they couldn’t defeat death. Their hope and ours would have to be in someone who could in fact defeat death. And that’s what the burial was about (what it is ordinarily about, in Scripture): the hope of resurrection. Ultimately, the goal of this text—and all of God’s providence in our lives—is to make us ache for Jesus!
What unusual providence in your life have you wondered about? In Whom is your hope?
Suggested Songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH256 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

2019.08.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 6:1-7

Questions for Littles: In what year did Isaiah see this (Isaiah 6:1)? Whom did he see? Where? What filled the temple? Who stood above the throne (Isaiah 6:2)? How many wings did each have? What did each do with those wings? What did they cry to one another (Isaiah 6:3)? By what were the door posts shaken (Isaiah 6:4)? With what was the temple filled? What did Isaiah say about himself (Isaiah 6:5)? What were his lips like? What had his eyes done? What did one of the seraphim do in Isaiah 6:6? What did he have to use to take the coal from the altar? To what did he touch it (Isaiah 6:7)? What did he say had been done when the coal touched Isaiah’s lips? 
This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation, Confession of Sin, Song of Adoration, and Announcement of the Gospel came from Isaiah 6:1-7. This is a familiar passage about the great glory of God. Uzziah had been king for more than fifty years, but he was not the great king. The Lord is not only high, but higher than high: high and lifted up. So great is His glory, that the temple is not even standing-room-only. It is no-room-for-anyone-to-stand. You mayn’t step upon the King’s robe, and the train of His robe fills the temple!

The attendants of this King are “burning ones” (what “seraphim” literally means)—these are literally creatures of flame. Still, they are dwarfed and awed by the Holy-Holy-Holy One. They mayn’t stand, so they hover. They mayn’t look, so they cover their faces. Their feet are unworthy to be seen.

They cry to one another with such force that this heavenly temple of this glorious vision is shaken by their voices. This is no earthly shack, but still the praise of God makes it tremble as in an earthquake. Such is the crying out about the holiness of God that it causes a heaven-quake!!

It’s no wonder, then that Isaiah was concerned about how he had used his lips up to this point. As he hears the flame creatures, he realizes the one great purpose for which lips exist, and he realizes further that his own use of his lips has fallen so far short of this purpose that his very existence is self-destructive. “Man’s chief end is to glorify God… but all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God… so, woe is me, for I am undone!”

It is a conclusion that we must all reach now, from God’s Word, by God’s Spirit, lest we arrive at the throne ourselves on that Great Day, and hear that judgment pronounced by Him who sits upon it! Of course, the glory of the holiness that is on display is matched by an equally glorious display of mercy. A hovering seraph, who has been waiting for the King to will him into motion, flies into action. He takes a coal so hot that a flame-being must use tongs to handle it, and touches it to Isaiah’s lips.

That might sound like a recipe for lip-annihilation, but that is not the result. Rather, it is lip-atonement. The reason is truly astonishing: He who sits upon the throne was the sacrifice upon whom the fire of the wrath of the altar of God had been spent.

There is a very important passage in John 12:40, which quotes Isaiah 6:10, and then says about Jesus in John 12:41, “These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.” Who is the Him? Yahweh of hosts (Isaiah 6:3). Here’s yet another declaration by Scripture that Jesus is Jehovah, the Christ is Yahweh Himself!

And He is Yahweh upon whom was poured all of God’s hatred and holy wrath against sin, for everyone who believes in Him. Oh, dear reader, I certainly hope that is you. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved!
Have you believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ as the true and Living God who gave Himself for you? 
Suggested songs: ARP51A “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH341 “Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed”

Monday, August 26, 2019

2019.08.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 17:9-14

Questions for Littles: Who speaks to whom in Genesis 17:9? What does God tell Abraham to keep? Whom else does God say must keep His covenant? What obligation does God call “My covenant” in Genesis 17:10? Who must be circumcised? Who else gets included in the command in Genesis 17:12? When must a child be circumcised (Genesis 17:12)? What two groups are specified in verse 12, then reaffirmed in Genesis 17:13, as being required to have the sign applied to them? How long does the covenant with Abraham last? What if someone does not receive the sign—what shall happen to him (Genesis 17:14)? Why?
It might slip our notice, as we look at the rest of this passage, that Abraham spends the entire passage on his face. We would do well to come with the same posture of heart toward God, as He says MY covenant, MY covenant, MY covenant.

God is the One who initiates this covenant. Abraham does not have a choice in the matter. He did not make a decision or a commitment to bring himself into this binding relationship. Of course, he must decide and commit, but these were not optional for him.

God is the One who makes all of the promises. Promise to forgive. Promise to make holy. Promise to defeat death. Promise to give land. Promise of everlasting relationship. Yes, there are demands of Abraham, explicit and implicit. Faith. Obedience. Service. Worship. Even the application of the sign itself—which implies his obligation to yield to all of these things. But this is God’s covenant, and it has at its core God’s promises.

God is the One who will sustain both sides of the covenant. We saw this with the smoking pot and flaming torch in chapter 15. We heard it earlier in this chapter with the glorious statement that God Almighty would exercise that power in sustaining Abraham’s walk. In between, in chapter 16, all we had was Abraham’s failure.

Ultimately, this is a picture of Christ Himself. It is in Christ that God keeps all of these promises in your life and mine! The sign has changed but the substance is the same.
When were you baptized? How often do you reflect upon it and look to Christ?
Suggested Songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH265 “In Christ Alone”