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, November 02, 2019

2019.11.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 21:1-7

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom had Yahweh said that He would visit (Genesis 21:1a)? And for whom had Yahweh said that He would do something (verse 1b)? What had Sarah done in Genesis 21:2? What had set the time for this? What did Abraham call the name of his son in Genesis 21:3? Who had borne this son to him? Who had picked this name (cf. Genesis 17:9)? What did Abraham do to Isaac in Genesis 21:4? At what age (verse 4b)? Why do this at that age (verse 4c)? Whose age is highlighted in Genesis 21:5? How old was he? Who speaks in Genesis 21:6? Whom does she say has made her laugh? Whom else does she say that He is making to laugh? What question does she ask in Genesis 21:7? What answer to this question was already given in Genesis 21:1 and Genesis 21:2
God puts the reliability of His Word front and center in this passage.

It is as He had said that Yahweh visit’s Sarah (Genesis 21:1a).

It is as He had spoken that Yahweh does for Sarah (verse 1b).

It is at the set time of which God had spoken that Sarah bears a son (Genesis 21:2).

It is as God has commanded him that Abraham circumcises Isaac (Genesis 21:4).

And, in fact, we know that Isaac is “Isaac” because God commanded them to give him this name in Genesis 17:9.

And just in case we did not see that this was a central idea of the passage before us, the Holy Spirit actually puts the question to us on the lips of Sarah in Genesis 21:7, “Who would have said?” It’s not even one of the more common words for speaking, but rather one that focuses on the uttering itself—the sound coming out of the mouth.

Who would have uttered it? Yahweh Himself uttered it, and so it had to be fulfilled!

How do we respond to the Word of God? Faith, obedience, and joy.

Yes, circumcision is an act, but it is an act specifically tied to God’s covenant and its promises. It is the covenant sign. When one receives it, he receives the mark of the certainty of everything that is involved in God’s covenant. Additionally, when he brings his son to receive it, he is humbling himself before God and acknowledging that this child belongs to God, and that his only hope is God’s grace, and that this hope is an absolutely certain hope! We respond to God’s Word with faith.

But we also respond with obedience. Circumcising his son was a command. Naming him Isaac was a command. True obedience springs always from faith—obeying the commands of God because they are God’s commands. But true faith also always produces obedience. We must never deceive ourselves that we believe if we are not obeying; and we must never deceive ourselves that we are truly obeying, if that obedience is not springing from faith.

Finally, however, it is also of the essence of faith to rejoice. Faith is not merely a mental agreement that what God has said is true. It is a convinced response to the reality that is presented in God’s truth. For Sarah, this reality was now in her arms. Finally, she is laughing that believing laughter that we had seen in her husband back in Genesis 17:17! But it’s not just Sarah who shares in this laughter. We also are to laugh here in Genesis 21:6. We are one of “all who hear.” The God who shows Himself here to be a keeper of His Word is a God who has made also unto us many great and precious promises—all of which find their yes and amen in our Lord Jesus Christ!
How have you responded with faith to God’s covenant signs? In what areas of your life do you frequently get opportunities to respond with obedience? When do you most feel and express the joy of knowing that all that God has promised to you is true?
Suggested songs: ARP29 “You Sons of the Gods” or TPH243 “How Firm a Foundation”

Friday, November 01, 2019

2019.11.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 20:10-18

Questions from the Scripture text: Where did the disciples go in John 20:10? What did Mary do (John 20:11a)? What did she do while she was weeping (verse 11b, cf. John 20:5)? Whom did she see in John 20:12? What did they ask her (John 20:13a)? What did she think had happened to the Lord’s body? What didn’t she know in verse 13? What does she do after saying this (John 20:14a)? Whom does she see? What doesn’t she know now in this verse? Who asks her about her weeping now (John 20:15)? What additional question does He add? Whom did she think Him to be? How does she answer His question? With what one word does He reply (John 20:16)? Now what does she suddenly know—how does she respond in turn? What does Jesus now tell her not to do (John 20:17)? What has He not yet done? Before He does so, for whom does He have a message? How does He decide to send them the message? What is the message?
The disciples go back to their homes literally to “their own”—wherever they have been staying in Jerusalem. Mary, however, is aching for the presence of her Lord. Weeping, she looks into the tomb as John had done. The angels, like the risen Lord after them, ask her why she is weeping. To both, she answers with her desire to know where the Lord’s body is.

It is interesting that she doesn’t recognize the Lord from His appearance, or even from His voice in His original question to her. She recognizes Him in His knowing her. Indeed, this has often been the experience of Christ’s people. We especially come to know Him as we recognize that He knows us and is personally interested in and involved in our lives.

Apparently, Mary is so overjoyed at having found the Lord that she clings (literally, “fastens onto”) to Him. Certainly, there was nothing wrong with touching Him (cf. John 20:27, Matthew 28:9). But, as our Lord redirects her from clinging to Him to a different task that He has for her, we can understand His meaning. He has other things for her to do right now, before He ascends, because He still must meet with His apostles and prepare them.

Jesus, here, mentions His ascension twice. As we have seen over the last several chapters, He has been telling His disciples that His going to the Father is necessary so that He may pour out His Spirit upon them for their work. Our Lord knows us, and has fellowship with us, but He insists that in our fellowship with Him we do not hinder ourselves from serving Him.

And what a fellowship it is! He has brought us into His Sonship. His Father is our Father. Even in His resurrection, He has taken on our humanity. Our God is His God. Our fellowship is not in clinging to Him, but in that glorious eternal union with Himself that He has given us, and in which we are to serve Him until our work here is done.
How do you enjoy your fellowship with Jesus? How are you serving Him?
Suggested songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken” or TPH358 “Sing, Choirs of New Jerusalem”

Thursday, October 31, 2019

2019.10.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 3:23-26

Questions from the Scripture text: Before faith (here meaning “the One believed in”) came, what kept the believers under guard (Galatians 3:23)? For what were the believers being kept? What is the law called in Galatians 3:24? To Whom was it making sure to bring us? How must one be justified, who comes to Him? Now that the One believed in has come, what are believers no longer under (Galatians 3:25)? What are the people in Galatians 3:26 called? How did they come into this status?
Last week, in Galatians 3:19-22, we learned that the law (the Mosaic administration) was necessary because of  transgressions, but that it could not deliver us from those transgressions. That’s what it couldn’t do. So what’s the one thing that it did do? We learn in Galatians 3:23, the Mosaic administration “kept us under guard” until the time that “the faith” (the one in Whom we believe—Jesus!) would “afterward be revealed.”

The word translated “tutor” here helps us understand the role that the Mosaic covenant played in the history of the covenant of grace. The “tutor” was a teacher and guardian, assigned to an heir, to teach and prepare him for the day that he would come into his inheritance. He was already guaranteed that inheritance, of course. But, he was given a tutor for his own help, so that he might learn more about who he is, what his inheritance is, and how to conduct himself once he had come into it.

The Mosaic administration did all these things. It kept believers mindful of their sin (reminding them who they are), but also held before them the reality of the covenant of grace and God’s determination to set apart to Himself a people to whom He would be committed (also reminding them who they are!). The Mosaic administration also described for them what Christ’s perfect obedience would look like (especially by the moral law) and what Christ’s sacrifice would look like (especially by the ceremonial law). Finally, the Mosaic administration presented obedience not in the context of “how to get saved” but rather as instructions for “how the saved behave” (cf. Exodus 20:2).

With the “tutor’s” help in pointing forward to Jesus, being made right with God has always been by believing—even before the believed-in-one (“the faith” in Galatians 3:23Galatians 3:25) came. But, now that Jesus is here, there is no reason to continue the Mosaic administration. Christ’s moral law, of course, remains the same. It has never been how we were made right with God or qualified to inherit. And, now, it doesn’t even have that role of pointing us forward to Jesus. He Himself has come, and He has given us better things that point back to His finished work on earth and point us up to Him Himself in glory.

What this passage is warning against is coming to the Old Testament in a way that forgets that Jesus has come. It’s His book, and we must read it as those who have Him as our righteousness, and Him as our blessing, and are employing His book to whatever extent it helps us to know Him and serve Him better—and never to supplement what Christ has done. What did the Mosaic administration teach in its time? The same thing that the New Testament teaches us now: trust only in Jesus!
What do you do, that you are tempted to think improves your standing with God?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH435 “Not What My Hands Have Done”

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

2019.10.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ruth 1:1-5

Questions from the Scripture text: In what days does this take place (Ruth 1:1)? What happened in the land? From what tribe does the man go out? Where does he go to dwell? Whom does he take with him? What was the man’s name (Ruth 1:2)? What was his wife’s name? What were his sons’ names? What was another name for Bethlehem (cf. Genesis 35:19)? What is repeated for a second time at the end of verse 2? What happens to Elimelech in Ruth 1:3? What happens to Naomi? To whom else does this happen? From among whom do Mahlon and Chilion take wives (Ruth 1:4)? What were the wives’ names? How long did they dwell there? What happens to the sons in Ruth 1:5? By whom now has she been “left”?
Naomi’s name means “pleasant,” but the opening verses of Ruth present to us a bitterness (“Mara”) upon which much grace must be poured before she is “Naomi” again.

Political bitterness. Judges 21:25 tells us that these were the days when “there was no king in Israel,” and everyone did what was right in his own eyes. This was a time of division among a people, who ought to have been an example to the world of covenant unity.

Spiritual bitterness. “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” isn’t just disunity from one another. It’s rebellion against God, who was their King, and by whose law ought to have determined “what was right” rather than their eyes. Ironically, Elimelech’s name means “My God is King.”

Economic bitterness. There was a famine in the land. This one is related to the spiritual bitterness, because the fruitfulness of the land was a direct function of covenantal blessing and curse (Cf. many passages such as Deuteronomy 11:13-17).

Social bitterness. Naomi ended up with her husband in the land of Moab—arch enemies of Israel (cf. Judges 3:12-30) and of the Lord (cf. Numbers 21:29 and Numbers 25:1-3). Not only that, but her husband dies. Then, her sons marry Moabite women. Then her sons die. In Ruth 1:3, she and her two sons “were left.” The same verb concludes Ruth 1:5. The passage drives the message home: Naomi is being left by all that she holds dear.

What will the Lord bring out of bitterness? That’s the question that these five verses set up for the rest of the book to answer. For believers, whose lives will have much in them that is bitter, we will rejoice to know the answer!
What bitter circumstances do you have? What was the greatest bitterness ever experienced? What did God bring out of that? What do you already know must come out of every situation?
Suggested Songs: ARP30 “O Lord, I Will Exalt You” or TPH256 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

2019.10.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 7:37-53

Questions from the Scripture text:: What day of the feast is this (John 7:37)? Who stands and cries out? Whom does Jesus invite to come to Him? To do what? About whom does Jesus talk in John 7:38? What will happen to that person? About whom was Jesus speaking (John 7:39)? What were people saying about Him in John 7:40-42? What were the people divided over (John 7:43-44)? What did the officers from John 7:32 do in John 7:45? What do the Pharisees ask them? What do the officers answer in John 7:46? What do the Pharisees ask them in John 7:47? What do they ask in John 7:48? What do they say about the entire feast-keeping crowd in John 7:49? Who speaks up in John 7:50? What does he ask in John 7:51? How do they answer him (John 7:52)? What do they give as the reason for not believing in Him? Where does everyone go in John 7:53
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin all come from John 7:37-53. Here, Jesus announces Himself as the water in the wilderness. The Feast of Tabernacles was all about remembering the wilderness period; and a big part of the wilderness period was the miracle of water from the rock when the Israelites thought they would die of thirst.

Now Jesus identifies Himself as that Rock. He not only promises to quench our thirst but to fill us with so much life that it bursts forth from our hearts! Apart from Christ, out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies (Matthew 15:19). But the Holy Spirit comes along and changes our hearts by filling us with the life of Christ!

We have to choose. Are we going to recognize Jesus as the Prophet greater than Moses (John 7:40, cf. Deuteronomy 18:15ff)? Are we going to recognize that His words are Divine words (John 7:46)? Are we going to listen to what He says and respond to what He does (John 7:51)?

May God save us from unbelief! And, we see in John 7:48-49 one of the main things from which we need saving: self-righteousness. One of the things that God used to enable many in the crowd to believe in Jesus was their thirst. They knew they needed a Savior. They were thirsty. But the Pharisees thought that they were better than the accursed crowd (verses 48-49). If we believe that we are better than others, we must admit instead that we are thirsty and need life from Christ.
What time in your life can you remember, when you felt more sharply your need of Jesus? How does remembering that time help you trust in Him? 
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH459 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

Monday, October 28, 2019

2019.10.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 20

Questions from the Scripture text: Where does Abraham go in Genesis 20:1? What does he say about his wife (Genesis 20:2)? Who takes her? Whom does God visit in a dream in Genesis 20:3? What does He say to him? What does Abimelech ask him in Genesis 20:4? What do we learn that Sarah has done in Genesis 20:5? What claim does Abimelech make about himself? Who agrees with this claim (Genesis 20:6)? What has God done for Abimelech? What does God command Abimelech to do in Genesis 20:7? What does God call Abraham? What does Abimelech need Abraham to do for him? If Abimelech does not return Sarah, what will happen to whom? When does Abimelech rise (Genesis 20:8)? Whom does he tell about this? What is their response? Whom does Abimelech call in Genesis 20:9? In what manner does he speak to him (Genesis 20:9-10)? What specific question does he ask? What is Abraham’s (ironic) answer in Genesis 20:11? What excuse does he give in Genesis 20:12? Whom does he blame in Genesis 20:13a? How does he take some of the blame off of Sarah in verse 13b? In addition to returning Sarah, what else does Abimelech give to Abraham (Genesis 20:14)? What invitation does he make in Genesis 20:15? What value does Abimelech assign to what he has given Abraham to restore Sarah’s honor and set her right (Genesis 20:16)? What does Abraham do in Genesis 20:17? What does God do? What had God done (Genesis 20:18)? What does the Scripture call Sarah in verse 18?
Who’s the real king? That’s the question in Genesis 20. Is it Abimelech? The Philistine ruler of Gerar, whose name literally means “my daddy is king”? Or is it Abraham, who in this passage is jumping to conclusions not only about what others are like, but also about how he can be kept safe?

The answer, of course, is that Yahweh is King. He is the One who knows what is going on in Abimelech’s heart (Genesis 20:6), and it is by His grace that the sin of Abimelech’s heart was restrained in the first place! He is the One who has put a baby in Sarah’s womb. He is the One who has closed up the wombs of the Philistines (Genesis 20:18). In other words, Abraham’s fears were completely unfounded, and Abraham’s actions were completely unjustified.

In such a situation, we might expect a righteous King to be punishing Abimelech (who certainly is in danger! ...  Genesis 20:3) and Abraham, who hasn’t learned his lesson from the Pharaoh incident. Instead, God is restraining the sin of Abimelech, and rebuking Abraham through Abimelech, and keeping Sarah safe when her husband didn’t, and blessing Abraham and Sarah with great earthly possessions (Genesis 20:14-15) and a vital spiritual lesson.

But, most of all, the Lord is being gracious by keeping His plan to bring Christ into the world exactly on track. Before time, He determined to be gracious in Christ—to accomplish His redemption in the life and death of Christ, and to apply Christ and His redemption to believers by His Spirit. The Lord isn’t just being gracious to them in this passage. If you believe in Jesus, He is being gracious to you! And He still is.
How have you stumbled recently? How/why has the Lord still been gracious to you?
Suggested Songs: ARP51B “From My Sins” or TPH517 “I Know Whom I Have Believed”