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, October 12, 2019

2019.10.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 19:12-29

Questions from the Scripture text: How does Genesis 19:12 identify the speakers? By whom does Genesis 19:13 say they were sent? Whom do Genesis 19:21-22 say will overthrow the city? Whom does Genesis 19:24 say rained down brimstone and fire? Before whom had Abraham stood (Genesis 19:27)? What question does Yahweh ask him in Genesis 19:12? Considering  Genesis 18:32 and Genesis 19:13 (and Who it is that is asking!), what does he already know is the answer? Whom did Lot warn about the city’s destruction (Genesis 19:14)? Why did they not heed him? What had Lot suggested would happen early in the morning (Genesis 19:2)? What actually happened (Genesis 19:15)? When he lingered, what did they do (Genesis 19:16)? Why? Where do they tell him to go (Genesis 19:17)? What does he recognize that the Lord has done for him (Genesis 19:19)? But, what does he think may happen if he goes so far? Where does he ask to go, and why (Genesis 19:20-23)? What happens in Genesis 19:24-25? Where are they when Genesis 19:25 happens? What happens to his wife and why (Genesis 19:26)? Who else looks that direction, and what does he see (Genesis 19:27-28)? Why had God spared Lot (Genesis 19:29)? Where does Lot go, and with whom in Genesis 19:30? Whom have we recently heard about drinking so much wine that he lost his awareness, and great sin was committed by his children (cf. Genesis 9:20-28)? To whom does that happen now (Genesis 19:31-36)? What results from this in Genesis 19:37-38?
What does mercy look like? Sometimes, it looks like being forcibly led by the hand to do what we are much disinclined to do, and which others think we are crazy for doing. This world is in continually imminent danger of the fire of God’s wrath, and we are in perpetual danger of losing sight of that.

When we are sluggish or fearful, it is a great mercy if the Lord grabs us by the hand, as it were, and drags us to our duty. We often dislike His means of doing so. Uncomfortable sermons. The rebuke of a friend. Parents/elders who point out our inconsistencies and insist they be addressed. Even the immediate pressing by His Spirit upon our spirits is something that we often resist.

And, yet, in all of this there is not only strong mercy but also gentle. The Lord not only sparing our souls, but leading us to where we might have safety and peace.

The Lord’s rescue of Lot is a picture of all of these things to us. It answers the question, “What does God’s mercy sometimes look like?” And Genesis 19:29 answers another question, “Why is it that God shows us such mercy?”  Because He remembers the Mediator. In this case, it is rather specifically Abraham. But, we know that ultimately, it is Christ—that seed of Abraham through whom the promise comes true that in him all the families of the earth are blessed. It was on the basis of that promise that Abraham interceded for Lot, in union with Christ. And it is upon the basis of that promise that we who are united to Christ may intercede for others, or even for ourselves!

When we cry, “in wrath remember mercy!” (cf. Habakkuk 3:2), we are really crying out, “In wrath, remember Christ!” 
Which difficult mercies have you received? Which are you currently rejecting?
Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Heathen Nations Rage” or TPH385 “The Lord Will Come”

Friday, October 11, 2019

2019.10.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 19:17-30

Questions from the Scripture text: What was Jesus carrying in John 19:17? Where? What happens to him in John 19:18? What did Pilate write and put on the cross (John 19:19)? Who read it (John 19:20)? How? Who complained about this (John 19:21)? What did Pilate answer (John 19:22)? What were the soldiers doing in John 19:23-24? Why did this happen? Who else was there (John 19:25)? Who saw each of them (John 19:26)? What did He do for them (John 19:26-27)? What did Jesus know in John 19:28? What did He say? Why (cf. Psalm 22:15)? What wine did they lift to him in John 19:29? What did He do with it (John 19:30a)? What did He say then? What did He do then (verse 30b)? 
Our passage begins with Jesus carrying His cross to Golgotha and ends with Jesus dismissing His spirit from Golgotha. Other gospels mention that He was forced to carry His cross, but the picture here is of Christ being in control, even though others seem to be.

Pilate, we know, feels completely out of control. What he wants to do is release Jesus (cf. John 19:12), and he is more than a little suspicious that Jesus is an actual, other-worldly King (cf. John 18:37-38, John 19:7-8). The chief priests are pathetically not in control in John 19:19-22. Mary and John look on helplessly in John 19:26.

But Jesus is in control.

He bears His own cross in John 19:17. His true title is put upon His cross in John 19:19. Even the gambling over His tunic occurs because His Word is in control (John 19:24).

He makes it clear that it is He who cares for Mary through John and who cares for John through Mary.

John 19:28 almost sounds like checking off a to-do list. Everything else has been done but the thirsting.

And the drink that He is given is the drink that a Roman soldier would get coming off of duty. Interestingly, while Jesus had earlier refused the drink that would numb the pain, here He takes it—even though He is about to dismiss His spirit. The only thing He does with the refreshment is announce His job to be well done.

Then, of course, He is also the One who dismisses His own spirit unto His Father (cf. Luke 23:46).

This is not the death of an itinerant rebel-preacher whose enemies finally caught up with Him. It is the death of a Kingly Champion, laying down His own life, according to His own Word, in His own loving mercy.
Who seem to be in control over your life? Who is really in control? What difference does this make?
Suggested songs: ARP22A “My God, My God” or TPH22A “My God, My God, O Why Have You”

Thursday, October 10, 2019

2019.10.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 3:10-12

Questions from the Scripture text: “Of what” are the first group mentioned in Galatians 3:10? What is the condition of those who are “of the works of the law”? Whom does Deuteronomy 27:26 say are cursed? How many people were ever justified this way (Galatians 3:11)—and therefore how many who are “of the law” are cursed? How is it that the just live (cf. Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, Hebrews 10:38)? What is the law not of (Galatians 3:12)? What kind of justification does the law offer (cf. Leviticus 18:5; Romans 10:5)?
You might have heard someone say that the Old Testament was a religion of the works of the law, while the New Testament is a religion of faith in Jesus Christ. Maybe that’s even something you still slip into thinking. Although the apostles’ opponents taught this, nothing could be further from the truth.

In the previous passage, the apostle had dealt with their claim to be the sons of Abraham. Actually, he said, it is believers who bear the family resemblance to Abraham, and believers who share in the family inheritance with Abraham.

Now, he deals with their claim to be the followers of the Old Testament. “Not the Old Testament that I’m reading,” says the apostle. Quoting from Deuteronomy, Habakkuk, and Leviticus, he shows that the Old Testament taught the very thing that he has been teaching: if you’re hoping that the works of the law are going to make you right with God or foster spiritual life, you’ll find out that you end up cursed by the very thing in which you hoped. That kind of justification or life always required—and never been able to deliver—perfect, personal, perpetual obedience.

So, did the Old Testament ever offer hope of being just (right with God) or alive? Well, yes—by faith (just as the apostle has been teaching)! So, it is the gospel of righteousness and life through believing in Jesus Christ that produces true offspring of Abraham. And, it is the gospel of righteousness and life through believing in Jesus Christ that is what the Old Testament truly teaches.

From cover to cover, the Bible teaches a religion of grace. Being made right with God only by the merit of what Jesus has done, only through the instrument of believing in Him. And having spiritual life for the good that we do in response only through that same faith by which we were made just.

Ironically, those who accuse the Old Testament of teaching a religion of works align themselves not with Jesus and Paul, but with the Pharisees and Judaizers who opposed them. For us who hold to a religion of faith that rests entirely upon Jesus Christ, the entire Bible is ours!
What are you depending upon to make you right with God? What are you depending upon to enable you to obey the Lord? Where in the Bible can you learn about that kind of righteousness and life?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH130A “Lord, from the Depths”

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

2019.10.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Judges 19

Read Judges 19
Questions from the Scripture text: With what comment does v1 introduce “those days”? Who takes a concubine in Judges 19:1? What does Judges 19:2 call her for leaving him to return to her father’s house? What does the Levite go to Bethlehem to do in Judges 19:3? What kind of response does he get from the gal’s dad? What does the father-in-law keep doing when the Levite wants to leave (Judges 19:4-9)? What eventually happens on the fifth day (Judges 19:10)? What is the problem in Judges 19:11a? What is the servant’s solution? What is the Levite’s complaint against Jebus (Judges 19:12)? Where do they end up (Judges 19:13-15)? Why do they end up in the open square? Who finally takes them in (Judges 19:16-21)? What is the one thing that the old man is concerned to keep the Levite and his concubine from doing (Judges 19:20)? Who surround the house to make a very wicked demand (Judges 19:22, cf. Genesis 19:5)? How does the old man respond (Judges 19:23-24, cf. Genesis 19:6-8)? But what does his guest end up doing (Judges 19:25a)? And what do the men of the city then do (verse 25b)? When did the woman return (Judges 19:26)? What has happened to her (Judges 19:26-28)? By what method does her husband send news of what was done (Judges 19:29-30)?
The parallels between Judges 19 and Genesis 19 are obvious. Welcome to Gibeah, or as the observant reader might call it, “New Sodom.” Long term, chapters like this are intended to make us ache for King Jesus. Judges 19:1 introduces the account to us by saying “there was no king in Israel.” But, an honest look at the rest of Israel’s history tells us that the kings whom they end up receiving don’t bring an answer to the wickedness problem.

Short term, the verse reminds us that the civil magistrate is ordained by God for the punishing of evil; and where the sword is not used for that purpose (cf. Romans 13:1-4, 1 Peter 2:13-14), wickedness increases unchecked. The current society in which we live is a sad testament to this truth.

With respect to both of these things—the need for King Jesus’s return to put an end to sin once for all, and the need for civil magistrates to employ the sword in punishing evil—it is particularly shocking to notice where we are in Judges 19. Judah. Benjamin. Bethlehem. Gibeah. These are supposed to be the safe places. Like the Levite said to his servant, it’s not like this is “a city of foreigners, who are not of the children of Israel” (Judges 19:12).

Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he falls. Even in the church, the slide away from the Lord can produce the most horrifyingly wicked results. Many churches have made this slide in some of our lifetimes. Even righteous Lot—or a godly and hospitable old man, or a conscientious Levite, or any of us—is susceptible to the great sin of exposing dear ones to the wickedness of the world out of some sincere but mixed-up logic.

We must be constantly vigilant—both employing God’s means and resting upon God’s mercy—against sliding into sin. Otherwise, we may find ourselves saying, “No such deed has been done or seen among the people of God—Consider it, take counsel, and speak up!”
What means has God appointed for keeping you from sliding into sin?
Suggested Songs: ARP119W “Lord, Let My Cry before You Come” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

2019.10.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 46

Read Psalm 46
Questions from the Scripture text: Who is our refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1a)? What else is He (verse 1b)? What, therefore, won’t we do (Psalm 46:2a)? When (verse 2b)? And when else (verse 2c)? And when (Psalm 46:3a)? And when (verse 3b)? What was one event when these things literally happened? What water from Psalm 46:4 is not water of judgment? Whose city does this river make glad? What else does verse 4 call this city? Who is in the midst of her (Psalm 46:5a)? What does this keep from happening to her? Who helps her (verse 5b)? When? What happened when the nations raged (Psalm 46:6a)? What happened when the Lord just uttered His voice (verse 6b)? Who is with us (Psalm 46:7aPsalm 46:11a)? What is our refuge (verses 7b and 11b)? What are we encouraged to do (Psalm 46:8a)? In this case, what works specifically are we to behold ? And Psalm 46:9? What are these raging and warring nations commanded to do (Psalm 46:10a)? Who wins this battle for supremacy among the nations (verse 10b)? In all the earth (verse 10c)?  
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin all came from Psalm 46. Here is a great Psalm of confidence in the Lord. If God is our refuge—where we go to be safe—and our strength, … then what danger should really cause us to fear?

Really, there is only one that comes close. The judgment and wrath of God Himself. This is the danger that removes the earth. This is the danger that casts mountains into the sea. The flood (and the burning of fire at the return of Christ) are utterly terrifying.

But think about the flood. Who, in the flood, had God as his refuge and strength. To whom was God the present help in trouble? This is the great safety of Noah. Not the ark. But Him who is causing the devastation, destruction, and desolation beneath the ark.

Did you catch that in Psalm 46:8? “Come, behold the works of the Lord.” What works? “Who had made desolations in the earth.” The world-destroying power of God is actually a comfort to those who know that this world-destroying power is for them, not against them.

If by having God as our refuge, we have faced down God’s own wrath, then what have we to fear from men, and governments, and armies, and nations? There were plenty of those in place, when the earth had been “filled with violence” in Genesis 6, and God destroyed them all with one great stroke. Just so—it can be fearful when nations rage and kingdoms move. But our God’s power is such that the mere uttering of His voice makes the earth to melt!

“Yahweh of Hosts” is a name that highlights this. Not only is He the Creator of all, so that everything depends upon Him, but one of the things that He created are the angel armies—the hosts—that are under His command. But He is not just our God of unlimited power, He is our God of amazing grace!

“God of Jacob” is a name that highlights this. He doesn’t use the name “Israel” that covenant name of faith. No, there is plenty of “Jacob” left in believers in this life. That name, of course, highlighted how Jacob was a heel-grasper, who from the womb lived by his wits: manipulating, tricking, and stealing however he could to get his way. This was anything but a man of faith.

No, God does not shrink from identifying Himself with people who need such grace as we do. He is a God of amazing grace!
What current situations seem most difficult? How will you remember God’s power in it? 
Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge” or TPH46A “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength”

Monday, October 07, 2019

2019.10.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 15:25-32

Questions from the Scripture text: Who was in the field (Luke 15:25)? What did he hear as he neared the house? Whom did he ask about this (Luke 15:26)? What does the servant say his father has done (Luke 15:27)? How does the older brother respond (Luke 15:28)? And how does his father respond to that? What does the son say that he has done (Luke 15:29)? What does he say that he has not done? What does he say that his father has not done (that the son, apparently, wanted most)? What does he call his brother (Luke 15:30)? How does he describe what his brother did? What does the father present to the older brother as his first great blessing (Luke 15:31)? What does he present as his second? What does the father say about their making merry and being glad (Luke 15:32)? What does he say was the younger brothers previous condition? What does he say is the younger brother’s current condition?   
What do your responses to others tell you about your own heart toward God?

The parable of the lost son is the climax in a three-parable answer to the Pharisees and scribes who were so offended that Jesus receives sinners and eats with them. Grievously, they thought of themselves as “righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7). But there was an even deeper problem behind this twisted view of themselves…

May God be merciful to us to keep us from ever thinking of ourselves in this life as those who need no repentance! On the one hand, we would become those who are haughty toward those whose sins are more obvious—responding with disgust at the idea of reaching out to them, calling them to repentance, and receiving them when they do.

But what lies on the other hand is even worse. If we feel ourselves to be the righteous who need no repentance, we will miss the amazingness of God’s grace to us, and fail to respond with joy over the fact that He is always with us, and all the He has is ours (Luke 15:31).

A judgmentally closed heart toward the vilest of sinners may be the presenting symptom of the disease, but the ungratefully closed heart toward God is its mortal symptom. Such dead, unforgiven, ungracious hearts may aim at much obedience (Luke 15:29), but primarily as a way of getting from God what it wants—every other blessing than Him Himself.

How very different this is from our True Older Brother, the Lord Jesus! In His divine nature, the Father and the Spirit are His everlasting joy from before time began. And this is also true for Him in time, in His perfect human nature. He loves to speak what He hears from the Father. He loves to do what He receives from His Father to do. For the greatness of the JOY set before Him—the glory of the Father, and declaring of His Father’s praise—He counted the shame of the cross as a small thing.

O that His joy would become our joy—and that we might have it to the full!
How does your heart respond to the idea of reaching out to the vilest sinners?
Suggested Songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH340 “There Is a Fountain”