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, September 07, 2019

2019.09.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 18:1-15

Questions from the Scripture text: Who appeared to Abraham in Genesis 18:1? By where? What was Abraham doing? Where? What time of day was it? What did Abraham lift in Genesis 18:2? What did he see? What did he do when he saw them? What did he do when he met them? What does he call the three men in Genesis 18:3? What does he ask Him/Them not to do? What does Abraham call himself? What does he propose to bring in Genesis 18:4? So they can do what? What does Abraham propose to bring in Genesis 18:5? To do what? What does he call himself again? In what manner did Abraham go to Sarah in Genesis 18:6? In what manner does he tell her to make cakes? In what manner did Abraham go to the herd in Genesis 18:7? What does he take? In what manner does he prepare it? What else does Abraham take in Genesis 18:8? What does he do as they eat? Who is speaking to him in Genesis 18:9? What do they ask? What does he answer? Who is speaking in Genesis 18:10? What does He say He will do? What does He say Sarah will have, when He returns? What was Sarah doing and where? What does Genesis 18:11 comment about Abraham and Sarah’s age? What point does it make about Sarah’s physical condition? What does Sarah do in Genesis 18:12? Where does she laugh? What does she ask? Who is speaking in Genesis 18:13? What does He ask? What further question does He ask in Genesis 18:14? What does He then repeat? Who answers in Genesis 18:15? Against Whom does she now argue? What does He do/say? 
The appearing of Yahweh in this passage is marvelous. That’s how Genesis 18:1 identifies Him. People get caught up on how the appearance was that of three men, and later two of the “men” are identified as “angels” (but we will see in chapter 19 that these angels are also Yahweh).

Certainly, Abraham seems to have a sense of who He is. He begins by addressing them in the singular (Genesis 18:3), and then in the plural (Genesis 18:4-5). It’s possible that he is addressing just one of them at first and then all of them afterward. But it’s probable that the reason he begins sprinting all over the place is because he has some understanding of the Triune God. He runs in Genesis 18:2. He hurries in Genesis 18:6. He runs to the herd in Genesis 18:7. He hastens to prepare the calf.

 But we don’t always respond to the Lord in a way that is appropriate to who He is. Genesis 18:10-11 sets us up for Genesis 18:12-15. Sarah is right behind the tent flap, and she is physically too old to have babies. Her laughter is not the rejoicing faith of Abraham’s laughter from chapter 17. That’s poor response number 1. The second response is even more amazing: she denies that she laughed! It’s one thing to laugh within yourself. It’s another to start an argument with the Lord. But we often respond to Him poorly—and then follow it up by reasoning within ourselves how our response was not really so bad as it appeared.

Still, Sarah’s response doesn’t derail God’s plans to use her. He is not treating her according to what she deserves, but according to the worthiness of Christ, who will eventually come from her. Praise be to the God of grace!

What sin have you been ignoring, hiding, or excusing before God?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH234 “The God of Abraham Praise”

Friday, September 06, 2019

2019.09.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 17:6-10

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Jesus say He has manifested (John 17:6)? To whom? From where? Whose were they? To Whom did the Father give them? What have they done? What have they now known (John 17:7)? What has Jesus given (John 17:8)? To whom? What did they do with His words? What have they known about Jesus? What have they known about the Father? What else does Jesus do for them (John 17:9)? For whom does He not pray? What does He call those for whom He prays? Why does He pray for them? Which men are the Father’s (John 17:10)? Which men are Christ’s? Who is glorified in them?
In the first portion of our Lord’s prayer here, we learned that eternal life is to know the Father, and to know Jesus Christ whom the Father has sent. That is to say that eternal life is not the giving of everything that our flesh desires, but a re-setting of our purpose and pleasure back into God Himself, and finding that He is the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; finding that He has chosen to make the great display of His glory in His Son, Jesus Christ; and that the great act of displaying His glory has been to send that Son as the Savior of sinners.

This redemption mission is presented in John 17:6-10 especially by means of possessive pronouns. Those who are being saved belonged to the Father from eternity. They have belonged to the God-man for as long as He has been the God man. Not one was lost. All who were the Father’s are the Son’s.

And a sinner comes to be the Son’s by means of another important possessive. The words that Jesus speaks are the Father’s words. And those who come to faith in Jesus do so by recognizing that His words are the words of the Father.

By contrast, the word “world” here (John 17:6, John 17:9, John 17:11) is being used to indicate those who are not in Christ. It was out of the world that the Father gave specific people to the Son. It is the “world” that Jesus is very specifically not praying for. It is the world that Jesus is leaving behind, but among whom His people must continue to live.

The picture that emerges is that of a plan of redemption that has been focused upon a specific group of people from the eternal plan of God. What’s amazing about this plan is not so much that God has planned whom He is going to save, but rather what He plans to do with them. Jesus says “I am glorified in them” (John 17:10). Believers in Jesus Christ are at the heart of God’s plan to glorify His Son!
How have you been growing? How does this glorify God in glorifying Jesus?
Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH469 “Who Are These Like Stars”

Thursday, September 05, 2019

2019.09.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 2:15-16

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle say that he and his readers are by nature in Galatians 2:15? From what group were they not? How do these two groups compare? Even with their covenantal advantages by what could they not be justified (Galatians 2:16)? By what alone could they be justified? So what have they done in order to be justified by Him? What have they determined not to be justified by? Why not—who could be justified by the works of the law? 
It is a little bit jarring to read Galatians 2:15. I suppose that those of us who are at all familiar with the Bible—or at all honest about the human condition—are not so much surprised by the apostle referring to the nations as “sinners” (of the Greek words for ‘sin’ this is the one that means “to miss the mark”). What is jarring is to hear that it would make so much difference to be a Jew.

But it does! Or rather, it did at that time. To borrow a phrase from an old credit card advertisement, (covenant) membership has its privileges (cf. Romans 3:1 and Romans 9:4-5, where the apostle deals with this very issue). Those privileges include being part of a people who have been set apart unto God by His own provision of signs and sacrifices (or, in the case of the New Testament, the single sacrifice of Christ).

Now, we’re not talking in verse 15 about that aspect of Christ’s atonement in which He has endured wrath in sinners’ place to make them right with God. That’s what Galatians 2:16 is talking about! We must remember that Christ’s sacrifice replaces all of the Old Testament sacrifices—even those by which the worshiping community was set apart, and their worship was made acceptable. Perhaps you have noticed the Scriptures talking about the tabernacle being atoned for, or the holy things being atoned for.

The apostle’s point is that people who are part of the covenant community, and people who participate in the acceptable worship, STILL need to be made right with God ONLY through faith in Jesus Christ. If even we who have these privileges must be made right with God only through faith in Jesus Christ, then there are no works of the law at all (circumcision or anything else) that can make a man right with God!
Do you have membership, and its privileges? Even so, what must you still have?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH354 “Not All the Blood of Beasts”

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

2019.09.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Judges 13

Read Judges 13
Questions from the Scripture text: What did Israel do in Judges 13:1? In Whose sight? What does Yahweh do? Whom does Judges 13:2 introduce? What city is he from? What tribe? What is noteworthy about his wife? To whom does the Angel of Yahweh appear in Judges 13:3? What obvious fact does He repeat? What promise does He make? What commands does He give her in Judges 13:4? What promise does He repeat in Judges 13:5? What additional commands does He give in verse 5? What will the child be? What will the child do? Whom did the woman tell about this (Judges 13:6)? How does she describe her visitor? What does she not know about him? How does she summarize his message (Judges 13:7)? Whom does Manoah address in Judges 13:8? Whom does he ask to have appear? What does he ask for the man of God to do? What does God do in Judges 13:9? To whom does the Angel of God appear this time? Who was not there? What does the woman do in Judges 13:10? What does Manoah do in Judges 13:11? What does he ask first? What does he ask in Judges 13:12? What does the Angel of Yahweh answer in Judges 13:13-14? What does Manoah ask to do in Judges 13:15? What does the Angel say He will not receive in Judges 13:16? What does He say that He would receive? What does Manoah ask in Judges 13:17? How does the Angel answer in Judges 13:18? What does Manoah offer to Whom in Judges 13:19? What does the Angel of Yahweh do in Judges 13:19-20? How did Manoah finally realize that He had been the Angel of Yahweh (Judges 13:21)? What does he say to Mrs. Manoah in Judges 13:22? How does Mrs. Manoah reason that Yahweh is overlooking their sins in Judges 13:23? What does Mrs. Manoah do in Judges 13:24? What four things does verse 24 tell us about the child? Who begins to act in Judges 13:25
Dan had a difficult time finding a portion of the land that they could both fit into and successfully take. They ended up in the far north. Mrs. Manoah was a woman—and a barren woman at that. And by not even giving us her name—so that we are even having to call her Mrs. Manoah—the passage highlights for us how lowly this makes her.

And yet, not only is it she that Yahweh selects to bear the next deliverer in Israel, but it is unto her alone that the Angel of Yahweh appears. It reminds us of Genesis 16, and how it is unto Hagar the Egyptian slavegirl-concubine that the Lord appears instead of unto Abram or Sarai.

It’s a good reminder that there are no “little people” when they are being powerfully employed by the Almighty God. I’m afraid that many of us think of the story of Samson as the story of a very mighty man. But isn’t that just about the opposite of the point? Our passage highlights how the unique thing about Samson is how (even from the womb!) he is to be set apart to God by way of all of these Nazirite irregularities of diet and grooming. It wasn’t the hair upon him, but rather the Holy Spirit with him.

How weak are Mr. and Mrs. Manoah? They’d come to the place where they never thought parenting would never be an issue for them—let alone parenting in such an unique situation as this. Manoah prays to Yahweh for a second visit for a divine child-rearing class. Wonderfully, his prayer is answered! Anticlimactically, the instructions for parenting are, “Just do the stuff I already told you” (not a bad take on all parenting—just do what the Bible says, and trust God to use it).

Things take a turn for the scary when Manoah finally gets it through his thick head that this has been Yahweh Himself with whom they have been interacting. But Mrs. Manoah reasons well that Yahweh is going to keep His promise to her, so she’s got to survive at least another 9 months—besides, there must be some atonement for their sin before the Lord or else the offering would have been offensive. Pretty good theological deduction for a lady whose name we still aren’t even told! After all, it’s not about us. It’s about the Lord’s promise to bring the Lord’s salvation, and the Lord’s worship made clean by the Lord’s atonement!
Why might you need humbling? Why might you need reminding that God uses the humble?
Suggested Songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH256 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

2019.09.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 45:6-9

Questions from the Scripture text: Why does Yahweh say He chose such a strange way to deliver Israel as by the hand of Persian king Cyrus (Isaiah 45:6): When will they know what they know? What is it that they would know? What does Yahweh form (Isaiah 45:7a)? What does He create (verse 7b)? What does He make (verse 7c)? What does He create (verse 7d)? What does He call Himself? How much does He claim to do? What does He command to pour down from the heavens above in Isaiah 45:8a? What does He command the skies to pour down in verse 8b? What does He command the earth to open in order to bring forth together with the heaven (verse 8c-d)? Who has created this (verse 8e)? What is pronounced upon someone in Isaiah 45:9? Upon whom is this woe pronounced—with Whom does he strive? To what does He compare men? With whom does the clay argue? What does the last line of verse 9 call men? And what are the men who argue with God ironically saying?
This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation, Confession of Sin and Song of Adoration came from Isaiah 45:6-9. In these verses, Yahweh is explaining why He plans to use Cyrus the Persian to deliver Israel from their bondage to Babylon. It was NOT a popular plan with Israelites!

But that’s just the point, isn’t it? God isn’t under any obligation to follow our plans or to make His plans according to our preferences. By doing things in a way that no one else would have thought of, and that our flesh bristles against, God shows that He is Yahweh, and there is no other.

Does He make light? Then praise God! But He also creates the darkness, and it has a good purpose in His plan.

Does He make peace? Then praise God! But when calamity comes, He has created that too. He is never the One who sins, but the sin is always according to the good purpose for which He has ordained that others (who are free and wicked) commit it.

The purpose, of course, is that His righteousness and His salvation would always be coming from everywhere. From the heavens above. From within the earth beneath. From everywhere. Isaiah 45:8 is an Isaiah 45 edition of Romans 8:28. All things work together for good!

Sometimes, we see that “all things” as if it were a problem. There are some things that we would very much have preferred that He would NOT work together. But to think like that is to forget not only who He is, but also who we are. God grant to us to remember that we are but men!
What situation in your life might you be tempted to bristle at? Who is using it to do what?
Suggested songs: ARP131 “My Heart Is Not Exalted” or TPH231 “Whate’er My God Ordains”

Monday, September 02, 2019

2019.09.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 17:15-27

Questions from the Scripture text: 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)?
Some “scholars” think that this is the first time we learn that Sarai would be the mother of the promised Seed, but that was true as soon as the Seed was promised to Abram. The two had become one flesh. Just as Eve was the helper suitable to Adam, Sarai is the helper suitable to Abraham. One of God’s primary purposes for marriage was the bearing of godly seed (cf. Malachi 2:15).

So, a big part of this passage is the elevation of Sarai to be analogous to Abram. She too gets a name change—the only woman in the Bible to receive one. She too gets the promise of being one from whom nations come, and kings of peoples (cf. Genesis 17:5-6). Though under the headship of her husband and having a different role, she is presented as equal in value and significance (cf. 1 Timothy 2:11-15).

We need to recover a biblical understanding of the bearing of godly seed as an essential purpose of marriage, and the glory of the wife as covenant mother.

We also need to learn to rejoice like Abraham over God’s astonishing promises. Romans 4:9-22 makes it clear that Abraham’s laughter is not the laughter of unbelief, but the laughter of astonished praise.

And we would do well to imitate Abraham’s love for his son Ishmael. Abraham could easily have been taken up with the promise about Isaac. But Abraham asks that Ishmael, even though he is not the son of promise, would “walk before God”—the very language that the Lord had used for walking by faith at the beginning of the chapter. Would that all fathers would so love their children and urge God to save them!
Do you rejoice over God’s promises? For whose salvation are you praying?
Suggested Songs: ARP189 “Universal Praise” or TPH126A “When Zion’s Fortunes”