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 28, 2019

2019.09.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 19:1-11

Questions from the Scripture text: Who had said that He was going down to Sodom in Genesis 18:21? And who does Genesis 18:22 say departed? Now, who does Genesis 19:1 say arrive in Sodom? At what time of day do they arrive? Where do they find Lot? How does he respond when he sees them? Where does he tell them to spend the night (Genesis 19:2)? Where do they say that they will spend the night? Who prevails (Genesis 19:3)? What does Lot do for them? What do the men of the city do in Genesis 19:4? Which ones? For what (whom!) do they ask in Genesis 19:5? What is Lot’s counterproposal (Genesis 19:6-8)? What rationale does he give in Genesis 19:8? What do the men say about Lot in Genesis 19:9? What do they threaten? Who save Lot in Genesis 19:10 and how? What do they do in Genesis 19:11
One of the things that shocks us, as we arrive at Sodom with the two “angels” is to find Lot in the gate. This is a place for those who have become men of influence in the society—a position into which Lot has worked himself, despite not becoming entirely like them (cf. Genesis 19:9). It has been an unhappy progression to see Lot going from pitching his tent toward Sodom, to being close enough (geographically and by association) to be captured with Sodom in battle, and now to being part of the Sodom city government.

Now, let us not think ourselves better than Lot or immune to his downfall. 2 Peter 2:6-8 teaches us that Lot was righteous, and that he wasn’t acclimating but rather that it tormented his righteous soul day to day for him to see and hear their lawless deeds. It’s quite possible that the reason that we find him in the city gate is because he hopes to be able to “make a difference” by being a believer in such a position.

Still, Lot is quite certain that these obviously godly ones (we’re not sure if he recognizes them as angels or manifestations of the Lord) should spend as little time as possible in Sodom—and, even then, only at his own home (Genesis 19:2). Perhaps he should have taken his own advice!

By the time we are done, his wicked Sodomite sons-in-law will be gone; his wife will be a cautionary statue in the desert; and, although he will get his daughters out of Sodom, he will never get the Sodom out of his daughters. The entire history of the Moabites and Ammonites will be a testament to that.

During the course of the night, he even offers to have his own daughters abused by the entire city. There is a lesson here, as the angels strike the men of the city with supernatural blindness (it takes more than ordinary blindness to wear them out with trying to find the door). There are some things that only God Himself can do, and when man tries, he puts himself into a place where his own sinfulness will take advantage of him. Lot needed saving from more than just sinful Sodom. Lot needed saving from the remaining sin in Lot.
Into what situations do you put yourself (and your family) where you find yourself compromising with sin? What are ways of loving your neighbor without doing so?
Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge” or TPH518 “Come, My Soul, with Every Care”

Friday, September 27, 2019

2019.09.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 18:1-11

Questions from the Scripture text: When does John 18:1 occur? Where does Jesus go? With whom? Who also knew the place (John 18:2)? What had he received (John 18:3)? With what did they come? What did Jesus know (John 18:4)? What did Jesus do in that knowledge? What does He ask them? What does Jesus say in John 18:5? What happens to them when He says this (John 18:6)? What is repeated in John 18:7? What does Jesus now ask them to do in John 18:8? Whose Word must be fulfilled (John 18:9)? Who (of course!) doesn’t track with Jesus’s plan from John 18:8-9 (John 18:10)? What does he do? What does Jesus tell him to do in John 18:11? Whose agenda is Jesus following?
Jesus is in complete control. He knows where Judas might look for Him to betray Him and goes there. It was Jesus who had identified the betrayer by dipping the bread and handing it to Judas. It was Jesus who had told Judas to hurry up and do what he was going to do. Now, it’s Jesus who selects the location for his betrayal.

Judas is not in control. The Scripture, in fact, tells us that Satan had entered him for the purpose of this betrayal. But we can also see it with the long list in John 18:3: a detachment of troops, officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, lanterns, torches, weapons.

To apprehend an itinerant religious teacher from the low country.

Overcompensate much? Of course, they knew that they were up against far more. You almost get the idea that if they could have mustered more power, they would have. And we know that it still wouldn’t have mattered.

Matthew records Jesus’s admonishment to Peter that He could have summoned instantly twelve legions of angels. John, here, records something much more powerful.

Again, Jesus is in control of it. He puts the question: Whom are you seeking? But it is not so much to get from them their answer as it is to give them His own answer. Twice, He says, “I AM.” The text records it a third time. He literally knocks them to the ground with two words. He is the God who revealed Himself to Moses at the bush. He is the One who is so far above all creatures that there is truly no title by which they are able to narrow down His identity. All that He is, is what He is.

Indeed, He is the One whose Words must always be fulfilled (cf. John 18:9)—a distinction that belongs only to the Lord.

And all of this emphasis on Jesus’s being in complete control only makes more remarkable the conclusion in John 18:11. The Lord Himself has taken upon Himself the form of a slave, becoming a Man, putting Himself into a position of submission. Peter (John 18:10) may not be onboard with Jesus’s plan to spare His people at His own expense (John 18:8-9), but in His humanity, the Lord Jesus is perfectly submitted to His Father in heaven (John 18:11). Here is the active obedience of Jesus in stark contrast to the failure of Peter—a failure that Jesus is in the midst of atoning for by His betrayal, arrest, trial, suffering, and death… all under the curse of God on our behalf. What does He do with His control? Submit Himself unto the suffering of Hell and death. What a Savior!
In what current situation do you need to remember that Jesus is savingly in control?
Suggested songs: ARP110 “The Lord Has Spoken to My Lord” or TPH375 “All Hail the Power”

Thursday, September 26, 2019

2019.09.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 3:6-9

Questions from the Scripture text: What had Abraham done (Galatians 3:6a)? For what was it accounted to him (verse 6b)? Who are sons of Abraham (Galatians 3:7)? What had the Scripture foreseen (Galatians 3:8)? How would God justify the nations (Gentiles)? What did the Scripture preach to Abraham? What was the gospel that it had preached? Who are blessed with believing Abraham (Galatians 3:9)
We’ve seen it before with the Lord Jesus. As He directed the Jews to Himself for righteousness and life, they insisted that they had their own access to blessing: they were the children of Abraham.

Of course, it didn’t work then either. The Lord Jesus told them that if they were the children of Abraham, they would’ve borne the family resemblance and rejoiced over His day as Abraham had done. The Lord Jesus even went so far as to identify their true father: the devil who would like nothing more than to destroy Christ in his hatred. That’s the family resemblance that they displayed.

In today’s passage, the apostle is cutting off the “children of Abraham” argument of his Judaizing opponents. It’s as if they say, “You can be children of Abraham if…” and before they complete the idea with “circumcision” or some other keeping of the law by our flesh, the apostle instead interjects, “… if you believe like Abraham.” That’s the true family resemblance, according to (Galatians 3:6-7).

But perhaps the opponents were saying that faith may be the way to be declared right before God, but that there is a blessing that can be obtained by the works of the law over and above what comes by grace through the hearing of faith.

The apostle is cutting this argument off as well. For it is *in* Abraham that the nations are blessed. It is a blessing that comes not by imitation of a person but by participation in a person. Not by works as earned, but by inheritance as a gift.

So, (Galatians 3:1-5) had pointed out that spiritual life and power had to come by the hearing of faith, because this was the means by which God gave the Spirit and worked miraculously—there’s nothing that man can do to “supplement” such power!

And, there’s nothing that the flesh can add to our being Abraham’s children either. The family resemblance is seen in resembling his faith. The family inheritance is received as a gift for those who are in Abraham because they are joined to the same Christ by the same faith. The real question then is this: has God given you faith through hearing His Word about Jesus?
What efforts of yours are you in danger of seeing as what enables you to grow?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH435 “Not What My Hands Have Done”

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

2019.09.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Judges 16

Read Judges 16 
Questions from the Scripture text: What kind of woman does Samson get involved with in Judges 16:1? Who think they have Samson trapped (Judges 16:2)? What ends up happening instead (Judges 16:3)? Whom does he take an interest in next (Judges 16:4)? Who offer her what to do what in Judges 16:5? What explanations does he give in Judges 16:6-14? What happens in each case? How does she finally break him down (Judges 16:15-16)? What explanation does he give in Judges 16:17? Did he expect that he would actually lose his strength when his hair was cut? What explanation does Judges 16:20 actually give for the loss of his strength? To whom do the Philistines give credit for taking Samson down (Judges 16:23-24)? How many total Philistines are there for the celebration? Which ones in particular (Judges 16:27)? For what does Samson ask God for his strength back (Judges 16:28)? What did the Lord enable Samson to do (Judges 16:29-30)? How long had he judged Israel (Judges 16:31)?  
Samson seems like an unlikely hero for Israel. Or maybe not. He’s been given a place and privilege and power entirely by God’s mercy and choice. Once there, however, he seems obsessed with giving his attention to anyone else other than the Lord. 

Samson’s newly hairless head isn’t the only thing that’s cold; his heart is so cold toward Yahweh that Samson doesn’t even know that the Lord has abandoned him. He expects that it’s going to be another glorious moment of playing “thought you had me” with the Philistines. 

Only when he’s hit rock bottom does he finally call out to God for help—and we don’t even see any real repentance or even care for Yahweh’s honor. “Just lemme get ‘em back for my eyes,” says Samson. Right down to the barely there (false?) repentance, Samson is a poster child for Israel.

It’s instructive to us that we don’t find it difficult seeing a parallel between Samson and the habitual patterns of the people of God as a whole. This is what we are often like. And what we need is to know: what is God like?

Well, He’s the God who turns Dagon’s party into the Philistines’ funeral. He’s the God who, for the sake of Christ and the love in which He gave Christ, listens to the prayers even of saints who have repeatedly disgraced themselves. He’s the God who is still on the throne in the seasons of even the most bizarre earthly leadership—and who is advancing His plan of redemption not only when it’s invisible, but also exactly opposite what appears visible.

Christ is still coming, and these are the people that God is preserving, through whom to send His Son into the world for sinners! We need to remember that, here in Judges 16, because (amazingly) things are about to get much, much worse.
For what “loves” of your life do you sometimes become forgetful of the Lord? 
Suggested Songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH256 “God Moves in a Mysterious”

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

2019.09.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 103:1-12

Questions from the Scripture text: What or whom is the Psalmist commanding to bless the Lord (Psalm 103:1)? With how much of what is within him is he to obey this command? How many times does he give himself this command (Psalm 103:2a)? What is he not to forget (verse 2b)? What is the first benefit not to forgive (Psalm 103:3a)? What is the second (verse 3b)? The third (Psalm 103:4a)? The fourth (verse 4b)? What is one of the tender mercies of God (Psalm 103:5a)? What effect does it have (verse 5b)? What does the Lord do for the oppressed (Psalm 103:6)? What has He done for His people (Psalm 103:7)? What four aspects of His character does He highlight in Psalm 103:8? Of what does this make the Psalmist confident, with respect to the Lord’s anger (Psalm 103:9)? With respect to our sins and punishment (Psalm 103:10)? What point is Psalm 103:11 making about the greatness of God’s mercy? What point is Psalm 103:12 making about the completeness of His forgiveness?
This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation, Confession of Sin, Song of Adoration, and Announcement of the Gospel came from Psalm 103:1-12. The Psalm commands us, at its beginning and end, to bless the Lord with our soul. And, to that purpose, it calls upon us to remember all of His benefits.

These benefits include the healing of all of our diseases, the redeeming of our lives from destruction, crowning us with steadfast love and compassion, satisfying our mouths with good things, and renewing our youth.

Ultimately, however, every single other blessing must come by way of the forgiveness of our sins. We are unworthy of the least benefit, but the Lord loves to display the greatness of His compassion, His grace, His patience, and His mercy (Psalm 103:9). This makes believers prime candidates for the display of these characteristics.

Sinners such as we are have need of higher-than-heavens unthwartable love (Psalm 103:11) and geographically immeasurable guilt removal (Psalm 103:12).

Every single blessing we receive shouts that God has not dealt with us according to our sins but according to His salvation—not according to our character but according to His. And so, let us not fail to praise and thank Him for even the least blessing. Unto people such as we are, the least blessing is an extension of the greatest grace!
What ‘small’ blessings of yours could be frequent reminders of infinite grace?
Suggested songs: ARP103B “Bless the Lord, My Soul” or TPH103E “O Come, My Soul”

Monday, September 23, 2019

2019.09.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 18:20-33

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Yahweh say has been very great in Genesis 18:20? What does He say about their sin? Whom does He say will go down and see (Genesis 18:21)? Whom does Genesis 18:22 say turned away and went toward Sodom? Yet, before whom does Abraham continue to stand? What does Abraham ask in Genesis 18:23? What does he propose in Genesis 18:24? What reason does he argue in favor of his proposal (Genesis 18:25)? How does Yahweh respond in Genesis 18:26? What does Abraham call himself in Genesis 18:27? What modified proposal does he make in Genesis 18:28? What answer does he get? What proposal and answer in Genesis 18:29? What proposal and answer in Genesis 18:30? What does he acknowledge as remarkable in Genesis 18:31? What proposal and answer in verse 31? What does he ask at the beginning of Genesis 18:32? What does he say about this request? What proposal and answer in this verse? Who leaves in Genesis 18:33? Where does Abraham go?  
The sin of the Amorites was not yet complete (Genesis 15:16), but the sin of Sodom sure was! Did the Lord really need to “go down to Sodom” to see if it was as bad as He had heard? Of course not! But, in speaking in this manner, the Lord was provoking Abraham to intercede.

By God’s own words, Abraham knew himself to be one in whom all of the nations were to be blessed. Now, God repeats that in Abraham’s hearing and immediately follows up by bringing to Abraham’s attention one nation that most certainly needed blessing.

As Abraham responds, he is unto us a picture of Christ, who perfectly intercedes for His people; but, he is also a picture of all of the children of Abraham, who bear the family resemblance. We are to be those who are prompted by God’s saving mission to pray for all nations (1 Timothy 2:1-8).

We see Abraham praying upon the basis of who God is. The God who has known him (Genesis 18:19). The God who is the Judge of all the earth. The God who is mercifully redeeming sinners and making them righteous. The God who sees and hears all things in all places at all time. This God has prompted Abraham with His Word, bringing Abraham into His counsels, and thus calling Abraham to prayer.

Abraham’s awe at the God to Whom he prays is magnified by his recognition of his own smallness and unworthiness. He knows himself to be “dust and ashes,” and so he is the more amazed at the privilege he has of calling upon God’s name and having God heed what He says. Let us, his children by faith, be awed at our God and humbled about ourselves. And, recognizing our great privilege, let us be instant and constant at the ministry of prayer!
Who hears you when you pray? What is He like? Why would He listen to you?
Suggested Songs: ARP5 “Listen to My Words, O Lord” or TPH518 “Come, My Soul, with Every Care”