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 30, 2019

2019.11.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 22:20-23:20

Questions from the Scripture text: Who else had children (Genesis 22:20)? Who were Nahor’s sons and grandsons (Genesis 22:21-22)? Who was Nahor’s great-granddaughter (Genesis 22:23)? Who else descended from Nahor (Genesis 22:24)? How old was Sarah at her death (Genesis 23:1)? How did Abraham respond (Genesis 23:2)? What did Abraham request in Genesis 23:3-4? How did the sons of Heth respond (Genesis 23:5-6)? More specifically, what property did Abraham want from whom (Genesis 23:7-9)? What did he offer for it? At first, how does Ephron respond (Genesis 23:10-11)? But what does Abraham insist upon doing (Genesis 23:12-13)? What price does Ephron pretend not to want to name (Genesis 23:14-15)? What does Abraham do in Genesis 23:16? Why is the summary of Genesis 23:17-18 important? What is mentioned in Genesis 23:4Genesis 23:6Genesis 23:9Genesis 23:11Genesis 23:13Genesis 23:15Genesis 23:19, and Genesis 23:20?
The end of chapter 22 reminds us that God keeps track of all people from all nations. They seem like random names to us, but we cannot know the multitude of people who may have come from them. Abraham’s brother has twelve sons—a significant number in the lineages in Genesis. But, as we learn in the following chapter, the Lord isn’t just tracing generations of those who live for a moment and then vanish. Every person from every family is an eternal soul, who will be resurrected. Death is the end of this life in this age, but it is not the end of a man or woman.

Sarah is the only woman in the Bible, whose age at death is given in the Scripture. She has been especially chosen by God to be the one through whom the Seed (Christ!) would come. Yet, she is just getting started.

It’s very impressive that Abraham wants to purchase part of the land now. Why? He’s lived here for some sixty years or so, and the whole thing is promised to him by God. He hasn’t needed to outright own anything so far. So, why now?

The answer appears at least eight times in this chapter: burial. He’s not purchasing something that he needs for his living body, but for his wife’s dead body—or, rather, for her glorified body on the day of resurrection! Some believers tie the land promise to the parcel of land that was reappropriated in 1948 and to the nation that currently controls it. But this is not only too small in Abrahamic terms (from the Euphrates to the Nile and the Mediterranean!), but it misses that the land promise has been expanded to include the whole earth.

More importantly, just as Sarah’s body needs to go through a transformative renovation now that it is dead, this bodily resurrection is precisely because the new earth that it inherits will also be transformatively renovated. There is an incorruptible world coming, for which we will need incorruptible bodies (1 Corinthians 15:35-58).

The whole interaction with the Hittites is intriguing—lots of being polite and etiquette, but on the whole, Ephron asks what is an exorbitant price. Abraham, of course, is willing to pay it, because his wife’s place in the world to come is of infinite worth by comparison to some silver that the Lord is literally about to burn up. Such are the values of one who hopes in Christ!
What is your body’s purpose now? In eternity? In the meantime between those?
Suggested songs: ARP16A “Keep Me, O God” or TPH471 “The Sands of Time Are Sinking”

Friday, November 29, 2019

2019.11.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 21:15-19

Questions from the Scripture text: When does this conversation begin (John 21:15)? What were they doing, when this conversation takes place? What does Jesus call Peter? What question does He ask him? How does Peter answer (using fileo instead of agapao)? And what does Jesus tell him to do? What does John 21:16 say about the question to begin? What does Jesus call him? What does Jesus ask him? How does Peter answer (again changing the verb)? What is the difference between Jesus’s command here and the one in verse 15? How does John 21:17 introduce the question? What does Jesus call him? What does Jesus ask (using Peter’s verb ‘fileo’ now)? How does Peter feel about this question? How does Peter answer Him this time? What command does Jesus give him this time? What information does Jesus add, in John 21:18, about the result that Peter should expect from his service to Christ and His flock? What did this signify (John 21:19)? 
Do you love Jesus? Ironically, if you do love Him, then I suspect that this means that you often feel pain over how poorly you love Him. And I suppose that few have felt this pain so much as Peter felt it, when he had denied his Lord those three times.

Even the restoration is painful. Perhaps the difference has been overstated between the unconditional love Jesus asked about the first two times, and the brotherly love that Peter affirms. But, when Jesus asks about this kind of love, and it’s the third of these questions, the text plainly says that Peter was grieved.

But the Lord Jesus was indeed restoring him—giving him instructions for how to express his love to Christ. Or, rather, upon whom to express that love: His people. We remember back to that fateful conversation in which Christ told Peter about his upcoming denial. It was then that Jesus had said that we are to love one another as He has loved us—that He was departing, but that we still might reciprocate His great love to us, but with one another as the object.

As an apostle—and therefore a minister of the gospel—Peter’s call is more specific: feeding (twice) and shepherding Jesus’s sheep (twice) and especially His little lambs. But this is how we are all called to express in our actions that love which Jesus can see in our hearts: by loving one another as He has loved us.

And He has loved us so greatly! Behold how He even gives Peter his wish from that last-supper conversation. Now that all delusions of his own strength have been obliterated, it is time for Peter’s desire to be affirmed: “I will die with you!” Now, Jesus tells him that he indeed will die by crucifixion. How will he get there? Jesus says, “follow Me.” Christ’s plan for each of us is customized for enjoying His love and expressing our love back to Him. And the instructions that He gives us for how to get there? “Follow Me.”
How have you been expressing love to Christ’s flock? How can you follow Him?
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH496 “My Jesus, I Love Thee”

Thursday, November 28, 2019

2019.11.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 4:12-20

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle call them in Galatians 4:12? Like whom does he urge them to become? Like whom does the apostle say he had become? What does he assure them that they had not done? What had brought him to Galatia at first (Galatians 4:13)? How does he refer to that physical infirmity in Galatians 4:14? What did they not do, despite his physical infirmity? How did they receive him? What does the apostle ask them about their first encounter with his preaching in Galatians 4:15? What does he say they were willing to do for him after they had heard the gospel from him? How does he say they are treating him now (Galatians 4:16)? For what reason does he say they have begun treating him this way? What are others doing to the Galatians, that has resulted in their treating the apostle this way (Galatians 4:17)? What effect is this going to have on them? Why are these others doing this—how do they want the Galatians to think toward them? Is the zeal itself bad (Galatians 4:18)? How does the apostle feel toward them in Galatians 4:19? What is he aiming at having happen to them? Where would he like to be (Galatians 4:20)? What could he do, then, that he can’t do in a letter? 
One thing that is always missing among legalistic believers and congregations is the profound sweetness of Christian affection. Here the apostle is reminding them of how he came to feel so close to them.

He had come in the great weakness of his poor eyesight. He’s even going to remind them of this in a couple chapters, when he closes the letter with his own handwriting instead of employing a scribe. But they had not rejected him for his feebleness. Rather, as a messenger of God they had received him—with a respect for the preaching of God’s Word that flowed directly out of their respect for Christ Jesus Himself (Galatians 4:14)!

Of course, Paul had loved them dearly for Christ’s sake already, but you can hear how moved he was by their love in Galatians 4:16, “For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me.” This is a common experience among those pastors who have been on the receiving end of such affection by those who love him for the sake of that Word which he preaches.

It is this about which he speaks, when he says “I became like you.” Now, the apostle is pleading with them to come back to that first love that they had for him. These false teachers seem to have an affection for them (Galatians 4:17a), but it’s not real. They don’t actually care about the Galatians’ souls, which would end up perishing if they follow those teachers. Legalism is all about puffing up man—and they are only puffing up the Galatians so that the Galatians will puff them up too.

Here is a test by which we may examine whether our love is genuine: is it us that we love to see in others, or is it Christ that we love to see in them? If we only love those of our little sect, then we do not love the image of Christ, so much as we are infatuated with our own reflection in them.

But it was not so with the apostle. Why did he love them so tenderly as to call them, “my little children”? Why did he love them so intensely as to describe his ministry as like being in labor with child? Because the object of his affections was Christ Himself, and his love for them was a love of the image of Christ in them!

“If only I could be there, so you could hear it in my voice,” he says. Legalism misses out on affection for Christ: it obeys, but it does not adore. And legalism misses out on affection for one another: a sectarian love for one’s own reflection in others, rather than a tender, intense devotion to all those who have been joined to Christ!
How is your adoration of Christ doing? How is your affection for believers who aren’t from your circles?
Suggested songs: ARP133 “Behold How Very Good It Is” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

2019.11.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ruth 2:1-7

Questions from the Scripture text: Who had a relative (Ruth 2:1)? What did that man have? What was his name? What does Ruth 2:2 call Ruth? To whom does she speak? What does she ask? What does Naomi answer? Where did Ruth go to do what (Ruth 2:3)? To whose part of the field did she come? What does verse 3 tell us for the second time? Who arrived in Ruth 2:4? From where? How does he great his reapers? How do they greet him? To whom does Boaz speak in Ruth 2:5? What does he ask? How does the supervisor identify Ruth to Boaz in Ruth 2:6? What does he report Ruth to have asked (Ruth 2:7)? What does he report about Ruth’s activity that day?
Ruth 2:3 says, “She happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz.” The Hebrew literally says, “it happened by chance.” But the point of the text is actually the opposite! Although Ruth did not know or intend to go to Boaz’s field specifically, God has providentially directed her there.

But the sovereignty of God has been directing much more than field-gleaning locations. Here is a Moabitess who submits respectfully to her dead husband’s mother, who isn’t too proud to take the role the law assigned to the very poor, and who isn’t afraid of hard work. We know where her character came from, because in Ruth 1:17 we heard her say “Yahweh do so to me and more also.”

And here is a man who, even though he is an Israelite, lives in the time of the judges, when there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in his own eyes. And what’s the first thing we hear from his lips? “Yahweh be with you!”

He is a wealthy man, but has come to the field himself for reaping. And he is a godly man, who blesses in the covenant name of God. He has also hired godly men, who return to him also a blessing in the name of Yahweh.

Even if we had not read the book many times before, we might already be thinking, “this is a match made in heaven!” And so it is. “And it happened by chance” that she came to the part of the field belonging to Boaz.”

The chief reaper seems to think so too—or at least understand that his boss might be thinking so. Boaz only asks, “to whom does the young woman belong”? But the reaper not only identifies her as that amazing Moabitess who has the entire town astir with her kindness to her mother-in-law (cf. Ruth 1:19), but he is careful to note also her respectfulness and industriousness (Ruth 2:7).

God knows what He is doing, and it is when we don’t that it is especially important for us to remember this!
What is an example from your life, when you were clueless, but God was working perfectly?
Suggested Songs: ARP183 “Under His Wings” or TPH256 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

2019.11.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Revelation 5:8-14

Questions from the Scripture text: What had Jesus taken in Revelation 5:8? What do the four living creatures and twenty-four elders do when they see this? What does verse 8 call Jesus? What does a harp represent? What does the verse tell us the bowls of incense represent? What kind of song did they sing in Revelation 5:9? What did they say Jesus was worthy to do? Why do they say that He is worthy? What has Jesus made out of those whom He has redeemed (Revelation 5:10)? What does John see in Revelation 5:11? How many angels were there? What were they saying in Revelation 5:12? With what kind of voice? How many of the creatures in heaven were doing so (Revelation 5:13)? How many of those on the earth? How many of those under the earth? How many of those in the sea? To whom were they shouting this blessing and honor and glory and power? What did the four living creatures say in Revelation 5:14? What did the twenty-four elders do? What does verse 14 call Jesus?  
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin come from Revelation 5:8-14 in order to sing God’s thoughts after Him with Jesus Paid It All.

That first word is a little one, but its meaning is a doozy. All. Every. Single. One. As in every knee shall bow and every tongue confess.

I wonder if you have ever considered the amplitude of the sound waves involved in Philippians 2:10.
Even before we get to Revelation 5:13, our eardrums have exploded. Hundreds of millions of angels—the great warriors of heaven… and each of them using a loud voice.

But then we get to verse 13, and it is as if the creatures of this creation are seeking to drown out the angels. Every last one is shouting in unison, “Blessing and honor and glory and power…” We cannot imagine what a cannon roar, what a tidal wave of sound, is involved in every word here!

What is the occasion for this super-sound of praise? Well, you can see it explicitly in Revelation 5:9, “You have redeemed us to God by Your blood.” And you can see it implicitly even just in the name by which the Lord Jesus is called.

The Lamb. The Lamb who was slain. Him who sits on the throne and the Lamb. How will we respond, when our remaining sin has been done away with, and we are glorified in righteousness? By shouting the praises of Jesus at the top of our lungs!
How exuberant will we praise in glory? Why isn’t it more so now? How can we grow it?
Suggested songs: ARP99 “Let the Nations Tremble” or TPH276 “Jesus Paid It All”

Monday, November 25, 2019

2019.11.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 22:1-19

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Genesis 22:1 say that God was doing to Abraham? What three things does God say about Isaac to Abraham in Genesis 22:2? When did Abraham get going (Genesis 22:3)? What did he do, and whom did he take? How had he determined where to go? How long did it take him to get there (Genesis 22:4)? What instructions did he give the young men (Genesis 22:5)? Whom did he say would go? Whom did he say would come back? What did Abraham give Isaac to carry (Genesis 22:6)? What did Abraham carry? What do Abraham and Isaac call each other in Genesis 22:7? What does Isaac ask? What is Abraham’s answer in Genesis 22:8? What four things does Abraham do when they arrive at the spot in Genesis 22:9? What does Isaac do (and not do)? What does Abraham do in Genesis 22:10? Who calls out to him in Genesis 22:11? From where? What does He say at first? What does He tell Abraham not to do in Genesis 22:12? What does He say that Abraham has shown? What does Abraham see in Genesis 22:13? What does he do with it? What does Abraham call the place (Genesis 22:14)? Why? What happens after the burnt offering and the naming of the place in Genesis 22:15? By what does the angel of Yahweh swear in Genesis 22:16? To what action does He say that He is responding? What will He do to Abraham’s descendants (Genesis 22:17)? What will Abraham’s descendants possess? In whom will all the nations of the earth be blessed (Genesis 22:18)? Because of what? Where does this passage “end up” (Genesis 22:19)? 
God says that He is testing Abraham. He tests whether Abraham is willing to give up his son, his only son, whom he loves. Are we willing to give up what we love the most—what we could least live without, what we would give everything else for—for the Lord?

The answer from Abraham was, “yes!” No child of Adam deserves to be able to answer yes. How perfect is the sacrifice of Christ, that He is worthy on our behalf that even sinners such as Abraham and we are would be the objects of such a work of grace! If you cannot say “yes,” then you can plead this before God: Christ is worthy that for His sake You would so work in me that I would give up anything for You!

And, when you do come to be willing, you will see that God has done a great work not only in offering Christ for you, but also a great work of His Spirit in bringing you to faith in Christ, and beginning to make you to be like He is.

The grace of our God is so great that He not only makes us to believe in Christ, but also uses us in His plan to bring others as well to faith in Christ. None of us are given the place of Abraham, through whom Isaac comes, and through whom Christ comes. But each of us is given a part in God’s great plan of redemption, as He brings to Himself all whom He has chosen in Christ in His eternal, electing love. This grace is especially great when He is pleased to respond to our good works—imperfect as they are—by doing good in response to His Son, whom He sees in us, because He has joined Him to us.

Of course—that is just the thing on display here. That it is only Christ who can atone for us. We deserve the knife. We deserve the fire. But even if Isaac had died, it was necessary that God raise him. Why? Because Christ had to come. Christ had to take the knife of death for us. Christ had to take the fire of wrath for us.

And of course He did. God would pass His own test. He would love us enough that He would not spare His own beloved Son. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and gave His son to be the propitiation for our sins.
What would be hardest for you to give up for the Lord? What has He given for you?
Suggested Songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH431 “And, Can It Be”

Saturday, November 23, 2019

2019.11.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 22:1-19

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Genesis 22:1 say that God was doing to Abraham? What three things does God say about Isaac to Abraham in Genesis 22:2? When did Abraham get going (Genesis 22:3)? What did he do, and whom did he take? How had he determined where to go? How long did it take him to get there (Genesis 22:4)? What instructions did he give the young men (Genesis 22:5)? Whom did he say would go? Whom did he say would come back? What did Abraham give Isaac to carry (Genesis 22:6)? What did Abraham carry? What do Abraham and Isaac call each other in Genesis 22:7? What does Isaac ask? What is Abraham’s answer in Genesis 22:8? What four things does Abraham do when they arrive at the spot in Genesis 22:9? What does Isaac do (and not do)? What does Abraham do in Genesis 22:10? Who calls out to him in Genesis 22:11? From where? What does He say at first? What does He tell Abraham not to do in Genesis 22:12? What does He say that Abraham has shown? What does Abraham see in Genesis 22:13? What does he do with it? What does Abraham call the place (Genesis 22:14)? Why? What happens after the burnt offering and the naming of the place in Genesis 22:15? By what does the angel of Yahweh swear in Genesis 22:16? To what action does He say that He is responding? What will He do to Abraham’s descendants (Genesis 22:17)? What will Abraham’s descendants possess? In whom will all the nations of the earth be blessed (Genesis 22:18)? Because of what? Where does this passage “end up” (Genesis 22:19)? 
God has already made promises to Abraham that include the things that are promised by the end of this passage. So, what does it mean that God was “testing” Abraham in Genesis 22:1, and “now I know that you fear God” in Genesis 22:12, and “because you have done this thing” in Genesis 22:15, and “because you have obeyed My voice” in Genesis 22:18? God is showing some things about how good works function in those who have been made right with God by faith.

First, good works show that God has not just done things for us, and promised things to us, but is also doing the corresponding work in us. Several times so far in Genesis, Abraham’s doubt and fear have led to sin. But God now “tests” him to give an opportunity for the faith that has grown to express itself. Didn’t God know before this event that Abraham feared God? Of course! But what Genesis 22:12 is saying is that when believers demonstrate Godly character,  God observes not merely the action but His work of grace in the heart that is producing that action.

Second, God has chosen to do much good in response to good works. There is an expression of His justice and His pleasure in what is good that God delights to reward them. We know that Abraham does not do well enough to be worthy of reward. Yet here, and many other places in Scripture, God is still pleased to reward those imperfect good works for the sake of Christ from Whom comes any and all goodness in us.

Third, God has chosen to do much good by means of believers’ good works. It is this son, whom Abraham was willing to devote to God by death, that God will devote to Himself by his life—God will bring the Christ through Isaac, and God will bless all the nations of the earth through Isaac, in part because Abraham has obeyed God’s voice.

Ultimately, however, we still deserve that death, represented in the knife. And we still deserve the wrath of Hell, represented in the fire. But God Himself will indeed provide the Lamb. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world—even our Lord Jesus Christ! Abraham did not withhold his only son, whom he loved (Genesis 22:2Genesis 22:16), but God spared him. Yet, when it came to God’s beloved Son, with Whom He is well-pleased (Matthew 1:1Matthew 3:17Matthew 17:5), God did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all (Romans 8:32)!
What makes you righteous in God’s sight? What use, then, are your good works? 
Suggested songs: ARP78B “O Come, My People” or TPH234 “The God of Abraham Praise”

Friday, November 22, 2019

2019.11.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 21:1-14

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom did Jesus show Himself in John 21:1? Where? Which disciples, specifically, were together (John 21:2)? What did Peter say that he was going to do (John 21:3)? When did they fish, and what did they catch? How long had this gone at the beginning of John 21:4? Who was on the shore? What didn’t the disciples know? What does Jesus call them in John 21:5? What does He ask them? What is their answer? What does He tell them to do in John 21:6? How do they respond? What happens? Who is the first to recognize what this means in John 21:7? Whom does he tell? What does Peter do? What do the other disciples do in John 21:8? What are they dragging? What do they find when they arrive at shore (John 21:9)? What does Jesus tell them to do in John 21:10? Who gets the fish in John 21:11? How many were there and of what kind? What was remarkable about the condition of the net? What does Jesus now tell them to do in John 21:12? What don’t they ask Him? Why not? What does Jesus do for them in John 21:13? How does John 21:14 summarize this entire incident? 
This passage is all about Christ “showing Himself.” John 21:1 introduces the passage by saying, “in this way He showed [Himself].” And John 21:14 concludes the passage by saying, “This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.”

One thing we learn here is that while the Lord primarily makes Himself known to us through His Word in the Lord’s Day assemblies, it is yet true that He also makes Himself known to us through His works in our ordinary lives. The previous two “showings” took place when all the disciples were together on the first day of the week. Here, there are only seven of them present, and it is a work day on which it is appropriate for them to be fishing.

Another thing we learn is the goodness of being much with other believers. If the other six had left Peter to fish by himself, John would not have been there to help Peter identify the Lord Jesus, the others would not have been available to attend to the boats and nets when Peter swam to shore in his excitement to see the Lord, and they would not have had together life-long fellowship in being witnesses together of the same experience. Furthermore, there are experiences that we have had of the Lord when together—such as they had with the abundance of the catch and the eating by the seaside of bread and fish that Jesus produced for them—that are enriched when we are together again, and He gives them to us again. We are much helped in recognizing Christ, responding to Christ, and receiving Christ, when we are with other Christians.

In the third place, we see several ways in which Christ makes Himself known to us in the events of our lives. The first is counter-intuitive. He permits us to fail. Some fault Peter for going fishing, but the Lord does not do so here. Yes, he was told three years prior that he should be a fisher of men, but Christ has not yet made it plain how they should go about this. In fact, when He does give them instruction, it is to “do nothing” until He Himself pours out the Spirit. So, let us be at least as fair with Peter as we would be with ourselves in considering the biblical evidence.

What Christ does do about the fishing, however, is take Peter and the other apostles back to that day when they were first called to be fishers of men. And their failure was a big part of that. For his part, Peter’s denial is still looming large for him (as we shall see in the conversation after breakfast). But, Christ brings him back to the same point: recognition of nothing but weakness in himself that he might find Christ alone as all his strength! If this is true for fishing of fish, how much more for fishing of men! Do not be dismayed, dear believer, when in God’s providence your weakness presents itself. Rather, take the lesson and whether in things earthly or spiritual, take Christ to be all your strength!

But Christ does sometimes make Himself known in our lives not only by the exposing of our weakness but also by the display of His wisdom and power and love. It is interesting that, although Peter bailed upon them at first, it was he who had the 153-large-fish reminder that Jesus knows what He is doing and can accomplish it with ease. Furthermore, such a haul would have gone a long way toward providing for the apostles’ needs until Pentecost. So, this is also a display of surprising and loving provision. Has not the Lord often done this in your life—caused things to fall out in such an unpredictable yet powerful and generous way that He freshly displayed Himself by His actions?!

Finally, the provision of the bread and fish by the sea takes us back to chapter six, where the Lord Jesus had identified Himself as the living bread come down from heaven, promising that He would give His flesh for the life of the world. Though John had seen it clearly from the moment the nets began to fill, it is following this flashback, as it were, to the feeding of the 5000 that immediately precedes John 21:12, telling us that they all now knew that it was the Lord. And the Lord does sometimes, when we need refreshment and reassurance, come to us in familiar ways to previous times of blessedness in Him. Oh, whether in the means of grace in the assembly, or in more ordinary circumstances, there is nothing that we need so much as to have Christ show Himself to us!
By what means of grace has Christ displayed Himself to you recently? And in what other circumstances?
Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song” or TPH282 “I Greet Thee, Who My Sure Redeemer Art”

Thursday, November 21, 2019

2019.11.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 4:8-11

Questions from the Scripture text: How does Galatians 4:8 describe the Gentiles’ unconverted condition? Whom did they serve at that time? In what two ways does Galatians 4:9 describe their converted condition? To what have they turned again (cf. Galatians 4:3-4)? What does verse 9 say they are desiring to be in? What does the apostle call “weak and beggarly elements” from the Mosaic era (Galatians 4:10, cf. verses 3-4)? How does the apostle feel toward them (Galatians 4:11)? What is he concerned might be their actual condition?
Why would anyone who had been freed from slavery want to become a slave again? That’s the question of the second half of Galatians 4:9.

Firstly, they knew how bad slavery is. The apostle says, “you served those which by nature are not gods.” In 1 Corinthians 10:19-20 he writes, “What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God.” The point of Galatians 4:8 is that as former servants of demons, they know just how bad false religion can be.

Secondly, they know how good sonship is. What a beautiful summary Galatians 4:9 gives us of the converted state! Galatians 4:8 describes their life before conversion as “when you did not know God.” Verse 9 describes their life as believers as “knowing God [because they have been] known by God. God has set His love upon them from before the foundation of the world! And when God brings them to faith, He grants unto them to know Him in such a way that their very hearts cry out, Abba, Father (Galatians 4:6)! Here is the profound sweetness of true conversion: knowing the living God as our own dear Father who has bent His affection upon us from before the world began.

So, why would they trade that genuine spiritual reality for the outward earthly things that had belonged to the “slave” era of Israel waiting for Christ to come (cf. Galatians 4:3)? The coming of Jesus had left them with just one day, the Lord’s Day. Now they are going to start observing the entire Mosaic ceremonial calendar? God Himself had invented that calendar, and the Holy Spirit still calls observing it a return to bondage.

Observing the calendar denied that Christ is enough. Observing the calendar put man in the place of God. Observing the calendar implied that others who didn’t were doing less to please God than those who did. Observing the calendar denied the sufficiency of the means that Christ had given by which to walk with Him.

But this is what the Galatians were doing, and it made Paul wonder if they had actually ever been truly converted. “I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain”! 
What are some manmade rules or religious ceremonies or days that Christians might add to what Jesus gives us in the Bible? What does this passage call such practices? What does this passage say that being devoted to those practices calls into question?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH257 “Children of the Heavenly Father”

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

2019.11.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ruth 1:18-22

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Naomi see about Ruth in Ruth 1:18? What does she stop doing? What do the two of them do now (Ruth 1:19)? How far do they go? How much of the city was excited? Why? What do the women ask? What does Naomi tell them not to do in Ruth 1:20? What does she tell them to call her? Why? What is her memory of the condition in which they had left (Ruth 1:21)? What is her evaluation of her current condition? How many times does she name the One whom she sees behind her misery in Ruth 1:20-21? In the summary in Ruth 1:22, what additional data do we learn about the timing of their arrival?
Believers need to keep the certainty of the gospel of Christ front and center, so that we will see that the Lord is determined to do us good. Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to do her good, and so she went along with it. If only she was able to see the same with respect to the Lord!

Instead, she has opposite-vision. She says, “I went out full.” Did she really? Her family were fleeing starvation when she went out. Things were so bad that they were going to go live among the idolatrous Moabites! When we do not see God’s perfect and constant goodness through the lens of the gospel of Christ, how easily we can re-paint the past in beautiful colors by comparison to the present against which we grumble.

And she says, “Yahweh has brought me home again empty.” Does she not have that same Lord about whom Ruth has learned from her? Is He not more to her than all others, as Ruth has learned that He is unto her? And, she has this believing and devoted daughter who is not only a source of earthly help, but is that kind of believing companion who is a great help to the soul.

Sadly, this failure to be sure of the goodness of the Lord that has promised the Savior turns Naomi’s good theology to her spiritual disadvantage. The very fact that she knows that God has ordained her trials is now reason (in her eyes) to decide that God is against her. “The Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me […] Yahweh has brought me home again empty […] Yahweh has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me.”

She is correct about who has ordained her circumstances, but because she is not holding onto Him with the certainty that He is constantly and eternally good to her in the promised Christ, she is employing this theology backwards. She ought to have been judging her circumstances by the certainty of God’s purposes toward her, but she is instead judging God’s purposes toward her by what she thinks of her circumstances.

Now, before we think too harshly of Naomi, let us admit that we do the same ourselves, and it is much more inexcusable. For, we do not have a prospective promise of Christ (which did, genuinely, leave her without excuse). No, we have the finished work of Christ. We have the knowledge that it was the beloved Son who was given for us. We have the certainty that He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all is, together with Him, freely giving us all things (Romans 8:32). This certainty about God’s intentions to us in Christ must govern how we see our circumstances; let us never allow our perception of the circumstances shape what we think of God’s intentions toward us!
Is the cross of Christ your great peace and assurance? If so, What current/past difficult circumstances in your life does the cross assure you are for your good?
Suggested Songs: ARP183 “Under His Wings” or TPH256 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

2019.11.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 7:20-8:2

Questions from the Scripture text: Who wasn’t Jesus made priest without (Hebrews 7:20)? What did the others become priest without (Hebrews 7:21a)? Who swore an oath to Jesus that He would be priest forever (verse 21b)? Who has become surety of our covenant (Hebrews 7:22)? Of what kind of covenant has He become surety for us? Why were there many priests in the previous covenant (Hebrews 7:23)? Who continues forever (Hebrews 7:24)? Why is Jesus’s priesthood unchangeable? Who is able to save those who come to God through Him (Hebrews 7:25a)? How completely is He able to save them (verse 25b)? Why is He able to save them to the uttermost? Who is the High Priest who was fitting for us (Hebrews 7:26a)? What five things in verse 26 describe how and why Jesus is fitting? What does Jesus not need to do daily (Hebrews 7:27a)? What did Jesus do once for all (verse 27b)? What kind of men did the law appoint as priests (Hebrews 7:28a)? What appointed a perfected Son forever (verse 28b)? Who has the kind of High Priest that Hebrews 8:1 describes? Where is He seated? In what sanctuary (holy place) and tabernacle does He serve (Hebrews 8:2)? Who erected it? 
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, Confession of Sin, and Assurance of Pardon come from Hebrews 7:20-8:2.

Jesus has finished the work of atoning for us. The moment that one believes savingly in Christ, he is as justified as he will be in glory. But Jesus isn’t finished with His work as our Mediator, because He has given Himself to do more than just atone for us. He has also given Himself to intercede for us. In our passage, the focus is upon God’s having given Christ, from among men, to be our Priest forever.

With what great confidence we should come to “the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Hebrews 8:1)!

We come through Him to Whom Yahweh has sworn that His priesthood continues forever (Hebrews 7:21, cf. Psalm 110:4).

  • We come through Him who has secured the blessings of a superior covenant (Hebrews 7:22). 
  • We come through Him who is able to save us to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25a). 
  • We come through Him who lives forever (verse 25b). 
  • We come through Him who makes intercession for us (verse 25c). 
  • We come through Him who is holy (Hebrews 7:26). 
  • We come through Him who literally does no evil thing (“harmless” in NKJV). 
  • We come through Him who is unstained. 
  • We come through Him who is not corrupted by proximity to sinners. 
  • We come through Him whose sacrifice has put our sin away once for all (Hebrews 7:27). 
  • We come through Him who is the Beloved Son (Hebrews 7:28). 
  • We come through Him who has flawlessly and completely qualified forever to be our Priest.
  • We come to Him who is seated at the right hand of the throne (Hebrews 8:1).
  • We come to Him who is Priest not of an earthly tabernacle, but of that heavenly glory of which the earthly one was a copy (Hebrews 8:2)

One of the reasons that we don’t come to worship with enough wonder is because we give little attention to Him through Whom we come, and therefore we little appreciate what glorious access we have been given in Him. O that the Spirit would stir up our hearts to appreciate Him and the entrance He has given us into glory in New Testament worship!
About which of the characteristics of Christ’s priesthood did you most need to be reminded?
Suggested songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken to My Lord” or TPH275 “Arise, My Soul, Arise”

Monday, November 18, 2019

2019.11.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 21:22-34

Questions from the Scripture text: Who come and speak to Abraham (Genesis 21:22)? What have they noticed? What do they ask him to do in Genesis 21:23? How does Abraham answer at first (Genesis 21:24)? But what does Abraham want cleared up first (Genesis 21:25)? How does Abimelech answer (Genesis 21:26)? What does Abraham give to Abimelech as a sign of covenanting (Genesis 21:27)? From these, what does Abraham set apart (Genesis 21:28)? What does Abimelech ask (Genesis 21:29)? To what does Abraham say that the seven ewe lambs are a witness (Genesis 21:30)? What does he call the place (Genesis 21:31)? What had they done when all was said and done (Genesis 21:32)? Where do Abimelech and Phicol go? What does Abraham plant there (Genesis 21:33)? Then what does he do? Where does he stay and for how long (Genesis 21:34)? 
Those who are outside the church often have little or no access to God’s Word. This was not entirely the case with Abimelech. He had a very vivid experience with God’s Word, “You are a dead man!” (Genesis 20:3). And it was in the wake of this that God identified Abraham as His spokesperson, with whom He had a special relationship (Genesis 20:7).

It’s been a few years now. Isaac has been born and now weaned, and Abimelech has had opportunity to observe that “God is with you in all that you do” (Genesis 21:22). What had Abimelech seen? Well, perhaps he had seen God’s material blessing upon Abraham. But he has also certainly seen that Abraham fears God in such a way that he keeps all of his solemn promises (Genesis 21:23).

This, of course, is a bit of a change from Abimelech’s earlier experience of Abraham’s character—when Abraham’s lie had just about led them all into sin against God. But, there has been more time to observe, and this is the conclusion that he has drawn. “God is with you in all that you do.”

This brings up an important question about how you see your life: when it comes down to not only your earthly wellbeing, but also your spiritual being, is your first great hope that God will be with you in all that you do? And then, when He does grant you to grow in faith and hope and love that produces worship and obedience and service, is it your conclusion about yourself  that God is with you in all that you do? Because if that is not the dynamic of your own life, as considered in your own mind, how can you expect that to be true of unbelievers?

And we can see the fruit of such faith-founded godliness in Abraham’s interaction in this chapter. When he continues to use the disputed well, he wishes it to be known clearly that he is not going back on their covenant. Even at the cost of the sheep and oxen—including the seven ewe lambs—Abraham makes sure that his ownership of the well is clear.

Finally, when Abimelech and Phicol have gone in Genesis 21:32, we can see the place of faith from which comes Abraham’s willingness to deal with such integrity. He plants a long-lasting memorial tree in confidence in God’s Word to him, and offers worship to the everlasting God (Genesis 21:33). His integrity with others has sprung from this faith in the Lord. Is it so with you?
What unbelievers observe your faith and character? What are they learning about God?
Suggested Songs: ARP15 “Within Your Tent” or TPH475 “Who Trusts in God, a Strong Abode”

Saturday, November 16, 2019

2019.11.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 21:22-34

Questions from the Scripture text: Who come and speak to Abraham (Genesis 21:22)? What have they noticed? What do they ask him to do in Genesis 21:23? How does Abraham answer at first (Genesis 21:24)? But what does Abraham want cleared up first (Genesis 21:25)? How does Abimelech answer (Genesis 21:26)? What does Abraham give to Abimelech as a sign of covenanting (Genesis 21:27)? From these, what does Abraham set apart (Genesis 21:28)? What does Abimelech ask (Genesis 21:29)? To what does Abraham say that the seven ewe lambs are a witness (Genesis 21:30)? What does he call the place (Genesis 21:31)? What had they done when all was said and done (Genesis 21:32)? Where do Abimelech and Phicol go? What does Abraham plant there (Genesis 21:33)? Then what does he do? Where does he stay and for how long (Genesis 21:34)?
Apparently, Abimelech’s last encounter with Abraham has left quite the impression upon him. Perhaps, it was not so much God appearing to him and announcing, “you are a dead man” as it was the effect for him and the people of Gerar, when Abraham prayed for them.

His opening line certainly accentuates this positive, “God is with you in all that you do.” Even those who want nothing to do with the God who blesses us yet desire to receive from the blessing of our God!

There’s just one problem with Abimelech’s request: he wants Abraham to deal with him according to the khessed that he has shown Abraham, but his men have actually taken by violence (indicated in the word “seized” in Genesis 21:25) a well that Abraham had dug (Genesis 21:30).

It is as if Abraham is saying, “No, what you need me to do is not to treat you according to your khessed to me, but according to God’s khessed to me.”

And it is important that Abraham proceeds to go the extra mile to be gracious. Abimelech had previously given Abraham “sheep and cattle and slaves” as a testimony that Sarah was rightfully Abraham’s. Now, even though the well is rightfully Abraham’s, it is Abraham who gives to Abimelech the sheep and cattle (he leaves off the slaves).

In fact, the well of swearing “Beersheba,” is also the well of seven “Beersheba” (the words for swearing and seven have the same root characters in Hebrew)—a reference to seven ewe lambs from the livestock that Abraham gives to Abimelech. These are perhaps the animals slaughtered in the “cutting” of the covenant at the beginning of Genesis 21:32.

Humanly speaking, even though Abraham keeps the well where he is (Abimelech has no need of it, since he is returning to Gerar), he is the generous benefactor in this covenant. The lesser (Abimelech) is being blessed by the greater (Abraham).

But, Abraham recognizes that the true Benefactor of all is “Yahweh, the Everlasting God.” That day, he plants a tree that will outlast all of them—a reminder that it is God who provides the well, and the water of it, and the sheep, and the cattle, and the seven ewe lambs, and the great Lamb who will atone for all of the sin of all who believe in Him! He is concerned not only to make that testimony to his own generation, but to leave behind that testimony about God for the generations that are yet to come.

When you deal with others, do they know you to be trusting a God who is all powerful, and perfectly righteous? Are you careful to be generous with them, and do you stir up faith in Him by worship? Do you consider not only the testimony that you are making to your current generation, but what you are leaving behind unto other generations?
What opportunities do you have in your life right now to be generous to others?
Suggested songs: ARP78B “O Come, My People” or TPH438 “I Love to Tell the Story”

Friday, November 15, 2019

2019.11.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 20:26-31

Questions from the Scripture text: For how many days had Christ been resurrected in John 20:26? Who was with the disciples this time? What was the condition of the doors? What does Jesus say to them, when He appears? To whom does He speak in John 20:27? What does He invite him to do with his hand? What does He command him to do with his heart? How does Thomas respond in John 20:28? What does Jesus identify as the instrumental cause of Thomas believing (John 20:29)? Whom does Jesus say are blessed? What else had Jesus done (John 20:30)? Why are the specific signs selected to be included in this gospel? (John 20:31)? What will be the result of their believing? 
It’s another Lord’s Day (the 8th day-seven days after the first), and another locked door, behind which there is another gathering of the disciples. The risen Lord Jesus teleports in, or walks through the wall, or whatever it is that His glorified body is able to do. And again, He greets them with that wonderful announcement, “Peace to you!”

We assume that the reason the door is still shut is for fear of the Jews (cf. John 20:19), but truly, what is there to fear if Christ, by His blood, has made peace with God for you?!

This time, Thomas is there. And Thomas is not at peace yet. He’s demanded more evidence. So, Jesus immediately turns to Thomas and invites him to do exactly what he has demanded. It’s at this point that Thomas realizes how wrong he was to make the demand, and offers worship instead, “my Lord, and my God!”

This is exactly what we are to believe about Christ. That the One who died and rose again is God Himself, who took on flesh in order to do so for us. Jesus says that Thomas came to this conclusion by encountering the risen Lord with his eyes. But, Christ also tells about others who overcome their demands, and humble themselves to worship Him as believers, without encountering Him through their eyes. “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

It’s at this point that the evangelist tells us why the Holy Spirit has carried him along to put this book of the Bible together just as he has done. These specific signs were selected and recorded, because it is through these Words of Jesus that we are to come to believe that He is the Christ (the perfect and ultimate human Prophet, Priest, and King), the Son of God (who is God from all eternity before He adds this humanity to Himself).

God intends to give us life, and His Word is the means by which He brings us to faith in Christ—in Whom alone there is life, and life to the full.

So, as you read these things about Christ, are you reading about the One whom you know to be your life? And what are you believing about Him?
What should you be asking God to do for you, as you read His Word?
Suggested songs: ARP19B “The Lord’s Most Perfect Law” or TPH170 “God, in the Gospel of His Son”

Thursday, November 14, 2019

2019.11.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 4:1-7

Questions from the Scripture text: From what does the heir not differ, as long as he is a child (Galatians 4:1)? Under whose authority must he continue (Galatians 4:2)? What does Galatians 4:3 call the outward ceremonies of the Mosaic code? What does he say that his people (“we”) were, as long as they were under this code? What does Galatians 4:4 call the time that the Father had appointed (cf. verse 2)? Whom did God send forth? Of whom was the Son born? Under what did this place Him? Why did the Son have to be born under the law (Galatians 4:5)? Into what age did this bring the church? Whom has God sent forth in this age (Galatians 4:6)? Into where did God send Him? What does He do there? What is the status of someone who has the Spirit in this way (Galatians 4:7)? And if this is his status, what has he become through Christ? 
In next week’s epistle reading, the apostle is urging the Galatians not to go into slavery on account of the false teaching of the Judaizers. Paul himself is a Jew, and identifies with the Jewish nation. But, he does not have romantic notions about the specialness of the Mosaic system.

In this passage, the apostle presents the Mosaic system as a basic (elements) structure set up in earthly/outward (of the world) things, that God set up for a specific use during a specific time. During that time, Paul says, the Jews were receiving the “slave” treatment. This was not so bad a thing, if you had a perfect Master—better to be a slave in God’s household than a son in any other one!

But, the point was not to keep them slaves, but to prepare them to cry out “Abba,” once the adoption in Christ had gone through, and the Spirit had entered their hearts.

Yes, God had appointed the law, but He’s now given something so much better than the law. Look at the “sent forth” statements of Galatians 4:4 and Galatians 4:6. First, God sent forth His Son. To be One of us, under the law. God sent forth His Son to be One of us!! Then, God sent forth His Spirit. To be in our hearts and cry out from within our hearts. God sent forth His Son’s Spirit into our hearts!!

Yes, Old Testament believers had to be made alive by the Spirit to be saved by believing in Jesus prospectively, looking forward to His coming. But they did not have the experiential knowledge of being united to God the Son, or being indwelt by His Spirit who trains our hearts to cry, “Abba.”

So, when the false teachers were presenting the Galatians with the idea of having their identity wrapped up in keeping the ceremonies that had looked forward to Christ, what they were really doing was distracting them from the far superior realities that had been brought in by Christ Himself. To use the language of this passage: a return to a ceremonial-style church is a choice to live like a slave, even after you’ve come into your inheritance.

Why would anyone do that? There is no doubt that they do. Even where men are not returning to God’s own traditions from the Mosaic law, they are often amassing their own earthly traditions that make up the essence of their Christianity. The fact of the matter is that union with Christ and the indwelling of His Spirit are things that are only experienced by living faith that must be given and sustained supernaturally by God. Externals, being the elementary principles that they are, have a much broader appeal and are more under our control to maintain. There is no real waiting upon God necessary in them, and they allow us to make ourselves feel and look like things are well with us.

But they’re slavery. Far better to wait upon God Himself to give us the blessed experience of union with Christ and the work of His indwelling Spirit—employing His means alone, and waiting upon Him for when and to what extent we will enjoy their effectiveness. Let us no longer be slaves but sons—heirs of God through Christ!
What are some manmade traditions that have arisen in the churches? By what means has God commanded us instead to enjoy the realities of adoption in Christ?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH257 “Children of the Heavenly Father”

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

2019.11.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ruth 1:14-17

Questions from the Scripture text: What did the women do at the beginning of Ruth 1:14? What did Orpah do? What did Ruth do? To whom does Naomi tell Ruth that Orpah has returned (Ruth 1:15)? What does Naomi tell Ruth to do? What does Ruth tell Naomi not to do (Ruth 1:16)? Where does Ruth say that she will go? Where does Ruth say that she will lodge? Whom does Ruth say will be her people? Whom does Ruth say will be her God? Where does Ruth say she will die (Ruth 1:17)? What else does she say will be done to her there? Upon Whom does she call to enforce this promise? What does she insist will be the only thing that can separate them? 
Perhaps the most amazing part of Ruth’s famous declaration is at the end of Ruth 1:17, “Yahweh do so to me, and more also, if (even!) death parts you and me.”

There are many parts to what Ruth says. Certainly, she is rejecting the “Orpah option” that Naomi urged her to take. “Do not set upon me to forsake you,” Ruth responds in Ruth 1:16. Orpah had shown respect and affection to Naomi, but it was too much for her to give up her people and her gods.

For Ruth, however, everything is under the control of the one true God—even death, and the enforcing of oath promises.

So, yes, she is promising to share Naomi’s presence (wherever she goes), and Naomi’s plight (wherever she may end up spending a night), and her people (not just generally, but specifically—whatever indigent class she ends up in).

But, there’s much more than that. For Ruth, there’s God, and there’s eternity. Remember that their ages have been a big deal so far in this passage. Surely, the expectation is that Naomi will die first. And what will Ruth do then? She will continue trusting in the God whose blessing goes beyond death. She will rest in a grave alongside Naomi, who trusts in this God.

Not even death will separate them (note that the “anything but” is in italics in your English translation; the Hebrew reads, “So let Yahweh do to me, and so let Him do again, if death separates between me and between you”).

For the one who trusts that death is not the end—that for believers in Yahweh, the grave is a resting place until the resurrection—sticking to the Lord with His people is worth every possible earthly loss or hardship.

Ruth has come to believe that Yahweh hears what she says and carries out justice on earth. This Yahweh has appointed her to be a daughter unto Naomi, and the fifth commandment requires her to stick to her. This Yahweh has promised that a Seed of the woman will crush the serpent’s head, and death will not win.

If Jesus has taken away her condemnation, then even death can’t cause her separation from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. Or from others who have this same faith. Do you believe this?
What hardship might you have to suffer to stick to Christ and His people? Why is it worth it?
Suggested Songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge” or TPH405 “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord”

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

2019.11.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 10:11-25

Questions from the Scripture text: What kind of sacrifices does every priest repeatedly offer (Hebrews 10:11)? What can they never do? How many sacrifices did this one offer (Hebrews 10:12)? For how long is it good? Where did He sit down? What is He waiting for (Hebrews 10:13)? What has He done forever to those who are being sanctified (Hebrews 10:14)? Who witnesses to us (Hebrews 10:15)? What did He say the Lord would make with us (Hebrews 10:16)? What would He put on our hearts? What would He write on our minds? What would He not remember anymore (Hebrews 10:17)? What does our forgiveness mean will no longer happen (Hebrews 10:18)? Where do we have boldness to enter (Hebrews 10:19)? By what do we have this boldness? What kind of way has Jesus consecrated for us to enter (Hebrews 10:20a)? What is the way through the veil (verse 20b)? What do we have over the house of God (Hebrews 10:21)? With what kind of heart may we draw near (Hebrews 10:22a)? From what were our hearts sprinkled, to be prepared for this (verse 22b)? What also was washed to show this reality (verse 22c)? What should we do with the confession of our hope (Hebrews 10:23)? Without what should we hold fast? Why should we hold fast without wavering (end of verse 23)? Whom should we consider (Hebrews 10:24)? In order to stir up what? What must we not forsake (Hebrews 10:25)? As we see the Day approaching how much should we exhort one another?  
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, Confession of Sin, and Assurance of Pardon come from Hebrews 10:11-25. This passage connects Jesus’s work on earth to our worshiping in heaven.

How is it that we can enter heaven by faith, week by week, in the Lord’s Day assemblies, like we read about at the end of chapter 12? Because we can enter that true Holy of Holies through the blood of our High Priest who has passed through the heavens ( Hebrews 10:19).  Hebrews 10:20 calls this the “new and living way through the veil.”

On the one hand, this ought to make us treasure Christ’s work on earth. Those old sacrifices could never take away sins, no matter how much they were repeated. But, Christ’s one sacrifice has done what none of them could do!

On the other hand, this ought to make us treasure our worship in heaven. Considering what it is that Christ has secured for us, and the cost at which He has secured it, how could we allow ourselves to miss those assemblies of the church in which we enter heaven together? It should be a strong warning to us that some were already doing so ( Hebrews 10:25)!

But there is a day approaching of that final entry into heaven, and those who are willing to miss out on the assemblies of the church from earth expose the fact that their hearts do not really value that coming entering of the church into glory.

So, let us value the finished work of Christ, and rightly devote ourselves to that Sabbath-keeping (sabbatismos, Hebrews 4:9), by which He has appointed for us to finally and fully enter His rest (cf. Hebrews 3:7-4:16).
What did Christ do, so that our weekly worship could enter glory? What does it take for you to miss that worship?
Suggested songs: ARP184 “Adoration and Submission” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome”

Monday, November 11, 2019

2019.11.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 21:8-21

Questions from the Scripture text: On what day did Abraham make a great feast in Genesis 21:8? What is Ishmael called in Genesis 21:9? What was he doing? What does Sarah tell Abraham to do in Genesis 21:10? What reason does she give? What did Abraham think of this (Genesis 21:11)? What does God tell Abraham not to do in Genesis 21:12? What does God tell him to do? What reason does God give at the end of verse 12—in whom will Abraham’s seed be called? Who is Abraham’s seed in Genesis 21:13? What will God do for him? When does Abraham arise in Genesis 21:14? What does he give Hagar? What does he do? What has happened in Genesis 21:15? What does she do? Where does she go in Genesis 21:16? Why? What does she do at the end of verse 16? Whose voice does God hear in Genesis 21:17? Who addresses Hagar? What does He say? What does He tell her to do (Genesis 21:18)? What does God do for her in Genesis 21:19? What was already there? What does she do? Who was with the lad (Genesis 21:20)? What effects does God’s presence produce for him? Where does he dwell (Genesis 21:21)? What does his mother do for him? From where does this wife come?
There’s more to maturity than advancing through physical stages. In Hebrews 5, the apostle uses the advancement from milk to solid food as a picture of theological and spiritual maturity. In our passage today, Isaac is moving on from milk to solid food, but we see that Ishmael is still immature in almost every way.

He’s a 16, maybe 17, year old who mocks a 3 year old at his weaning party. He’s incapable enough that if you’re going to send him away, you’d still have to send him away with mommy to take care of him. Between the physical conditions of him and his aging mother, she’s pretty sure that he would die first, so she puts him where she won’t have to see it happen.

But, by the very end of the passage—albeit now, sometime in the future—he grows, and is able not just to survive a few days in the wilderness but to dwell there, and to become an archer. A married man, who is becoming a nation.

What happened? “God was with the lad.” Why? When God commanded Abram, “walk before Me” (Genesis 17:1); and had given him circumcision for him and his children (Genesis 17:12); and had promised him Isaac, with whom He would have an everlasting covenant (Genesis 17:16Genesis 17:19); Abraham had made a special prayer: “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!” (Genesis 17:18)

At that time, God had said, “As for Ishmael, I have heard you.” (Genesis 17:20)

It’s difficult for us sometimes, to hold onto God’s promises concerning our children. Those children are not yet what we had hoped that they would be. And certainly our parenting is not what it ought to be. But God and His promises are always as they should be. And it is in Christ that those promises have their “yes” and the “amen.”

And that’s where God directs Abraham’s attention in Genesis 21:12-13. Perhaps Abraham thought that if Ishmael is put out now, there’s no way that he will ever come to faith, no way that he would ever mature. But we must see the “because he is your seed” of verse 13 in light of the “in Isaac your seed shall be called” of verse 12. The One who is in Isaac—Christ!—is the One through whom all the nations will be blessed. And God will be with Ishmael not because of Ishmael, or even so much because of Isaac and Abraham, as because the One who is in Isaac and Abraham, even Jesus Christ.

And it is for Christ’s sake that God takes note of Ishmael’s sin, and Ishmael’s trouble. It is for Christ’s sake that God has given Ishmael a concerned father and a praying mother. It is for Christ’s sake that God hears Ishmael’s cries, and is with Ishmael, and makes Ishmael strong and prosperous even in the wilderness. After all, it is in Christ that God became a child to save children!
What are some ways that you still need to mature? What gives you hope that you will?
Suggested Songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH257 “Children of the Heavenly Father”

Saturday, November 09, 2019

2019.11.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 21:8-21

Questions from the Scripture text: On what day did Abraham make a great feast in Genesis 21:8? What is Ishmael called in Genesis 21:9? What was he doing? What does Sarah tell Abraham to do in Genesis 21:10? What reason does she give? What did Abraham think of this (Genesis 21:11)? What does God tell Abraham not to do in Genesis 21:12? What does God tell him to do? What reason does God give at the end of verse 12—in whom will Abraham’s seed be called? Who is Abraham’s seed in Genesis 21:13? What will God do for him? When does Abraham arise in Genesis 21:14? What does he give Hagar? What does he do? What has happened in Genesis 21:15? What does she do? Where does she go in Genesis 21:16? Why? What does she do at the end of verse 16? Whose voice does God hear in Genesis 21:17? Who addresses Hagar? What does He say? What does He tell her to do (Genesis 21:18)? What does God do for her in Genesis 21:19? What was already there? What does she do? Who was with the lad (Genesis 21:20)? What effects does God’s presence produce for him? Where does he dwell (Genesis 21:21)? What does his mother do for him? From where does this wife come?
One of the things that we might easily miss in the drama of this chapter is that it is for Isaac’s sake—really, for the sake of Christ, that the Lord will do good to Ishmael.

It certainly isn’t for Ishmael’s sake. Ishmael is mocking the child of promise—the child on behalf of whom Sarah displeases Abraham, and God backs up Sarah (!!).

It certainly isn’t for Abraham’s sake. When God says “Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice,” we all look over at Hagar and think, “that hasn’t turned out so well before!” The Scripture draws this out of us by repeatedly referring to her as Abraham’s “maidservant” (“bondwoman” in the NKJV).

It isn’t even for Isaac’s sake. He’s probably three years old at this point, maybe five. He hasn’t done anything. But, when he was eight days old (cf. Genesis 21:4), he had received a sign that pointed forward to Christ.  When God says in Genesis 21:12, “in Isaac your seed shall be called,” he is referring to the fact that it is from Isaac that the Christ will come. For, it is not all those who are physically descended from Isaac who will be saved (consider Esau!), but rather Galatians 3:29 teaches us, “If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
What are you hoping in God to do? For whose sake do you hope He will do it?
Suggested songs: ARP146 “Praise the Lord” or TPH265 “In Christ Alone”

Friday, November 08, 2019

2019.11.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 20:19-25

Questions from the Scripture text: What day was this (John 20:19)? What time of day was it? What had the disciples done to the door? Why? What was Jesus able to do anyway? What does He say? What does He show them in John 20:20? How do the disciples now respond? Again, in John 20:21, how does Jesus greet them? What does He say that He is doing to them? What does He do to them in John 20:22? What does He say? What does He say, in John 20:23, is one result of His sending them as apostles and giving them the Spirit for this task? Who was not with them (John 20:24)? What did the other disciples say to him (John 20:25)? But what does he say to them?
In the next couple passages, we have first-day-Sabbath meetings between Jesus and the congregation (“assembled”—John 20:19, except in some critical text manuscripts). One wise pastor once commented with reference to Thomas in John 20:24, “see what you miss, and what attitudes you may develop, if you miss evening worship on the Lord’s Day?”

When we are assembled, Jesus reminds us of His power. He no longer physically walks through locked doors (John 20:19), but He does present Himself by means of His Word and sacraments to His people who may at that very moment be huddling for fear of their enemies on earth. He reminds us, thereby, that He is the King of heaven and earth. “When I am afraid, I will trust in You, in God whose Word I praise. In God I trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4).

When we are assembled, Jesus declares to us His peace. Twice He says this in this text, in John 20:19John 20:21. Not until they see His hands and side does John 20:20 tell us that “the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord”—so let us not be too hard on Thomas about his doubts. And this gladness is sandwiched between two declarations that He and His Father are for them and not against them—an alliance and identifying and help that have been secured by those wounds.

When we are assembled, we are gladdened by the glimpse that we receive of the Lord. Like the Greeks who came to Andrew, we are to come to corporate worship asking that we would see Jesus. What else is there that believers think they could desire out of corporate worship? This is the main thing: to be gladdened by the sight of the Lord.

When we are assembled, we are commissioned. No—not the same commission by which Christ is the apostle of God unto us (“As the Father has sent Me,” John 20:21, cf. Hebrews 3:1), and by which the disciples become the apostles of Christ unto the world (“I also send you,” John 20:21, cf. Matthew 28:18-20). Yet, He does leave us in the world as set apart unto God, as we heard Him praying for us in John 17:13-21.

Finally, when we have been assembled, let us be eager to tell others of the glory that we have seen and the goodness that we have enjoyed in our time together in assembly with the Lord. It may be that others will respond with resistance, as Thomas does when the disciples tell him in John 20:25. And it may also be that this is the first step in the Lord overcoming that resistance, as He does in the following passage!
What do you expect out of the Lord’s Day assemblies? How do you prepare for them?
Suggested songs: ARP100 “All Earth with Joy” or TPH153 “O Day of Rest and Gladness”

Thursday, November 07, 2019

2019.11.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 3:26-29

Questions from the Scripture text: What are all believers, according to Galatians 3:26? What effect has inward/spiritual baptism had upon them (Galatians 3:27)? What else have they done with Christ? What other realities are not preventing them from being equally adopted (Galatians 3:28)? What does union with Christ make them to be, according to Galatians 3:29? And, as Abraham’s spiritual offspring, what are they (verse 29)?
In Acts 19, when Paul meets believers who do not know about the Holy Spirit, he immediately asks them about their baptisms. How could they not know the name into which they were baptized—“Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”? How could they not know Him whom Jesus pours out, just as He has commanded that we do the same with the water?

In this portion of Galatians, the apostle refers them back to their baptisms as he connects the receiving of the Spirit (Galatians 3:2Galatians 3:5) with becoming children and heirs not only of Abraham (Galatians 3:7Galatians 3:29) but of God Himself (Galatians 3:9Galatians 3:26). Baptism, just like circumcision, takes a people (of all ages) who are children of earthly fathers and sets them apart as children of the Heavenly Father.

Ultimately, however, it is what Christ pours out that accomplishes this. The water that is poured on earth, baptizing someone into the church, shows forth that spiritual reality to which Galatians 3:27 refers: “baptized into Christ.”

Our water baptisms call upon us to hope only in belonging to our Lord Jesus Christ, so that it is always to Him that we look. So also, they remind us that when we believe in Jesus, it is always Him that God sees when He looks at us. As many of you as were baptized into Christ “have put on Christ” (i.e., “have been clothed with Christ.”) This is how Galatians 3:27-28 explain the sonship of Galatians 3:26.

You may be a Jew, but with regard to your status before God, what He responds to is that you have been clothed with Christ. You may be a Greek, but with regard to your status before God, what He responds to is that you have been clothed with Christ. You may be a slave, but with regard to your status before God, what He responds to is that you have been clothed with Christ. You may be free, but with regard to your status before God, what He responds to is that you have been clothed with Christ. You may be male, but with regard to your status before God, what He responds to is that you have been clothed with Christ. You may be female, but with regard to your status before God, what He responds to is that you have been clothed with Christ.

And it is that same Spirit, so clearly displayed in the pouring of baptism, who trains our hearts to say what that water baptism trains our tongues to say, “Abba, Father!” The name into which we are baptized is not merely God, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And when we experience the spiritual reality of the outward sign, the Spirit of adoption makes us cry out “Abba, Father,” bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God—and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ! (Romans 8:15-17).

This, ultimately, is what is at stake if we are tempted to think that we come to be children of God by how well we bear the family resemblance—it is an attack on Sonship being through faith in Jesus, by the work of the Spirit to clothe us in Him, so that we are not accepted as children for our worthiness but rather made worthy by being adopted as children. Not only is true salvation at stake, but even true knowledge of the Triune God who displays both this salvation and Himself in our baptisms!
What works are you tempted to think make you a worthy child of God? What (who!) really makes you a child of God? Where does worthiness come from? 
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH435 “Not What My Hands Have Done”

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

2019.11.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ruth 1:6-13

Questions from the Scripture text: With whom did Naomi arise in Ruth 1:6? Where was she going? Why? Where were they going in Ruth 1:7? What does she tell them to do in Ruth 1:8? Whose covenant love does she pray for them? To whom does she recognize them as having been faithfully loving? What does she pray Yahweh to grant them in Ruth 1:9? Where does she pray for them to find rest? What do they do at the end of verse 9? What do they say in Ruth 1:10? What does Naomi tell them to do in Ruth 1:11? What reasoning does she give in Ruth 1:11-13? What does she say has happened to her in Ruth 1:13? For whose sake has this grieved her very much? 
Sometimes faith has difficulty resting in the goodness of the Lord in whom it trusts. We often make much of Ruth’s determination to take Naomi’s God as her God, and we will consider this again in the next passage.

But notice that Naomi is also highly prizing having God as her God. If she were willing to accept Moab’s idol-gods, she could remain with her daughters-in-law and their families and have at least some connections to care for her. But, ultimately, Naomi knows that this is in God’s hand.

It is a statement of faith in God’s sovereign providence that she thought of the economic recovery in Ruth 1:6 as “Yahweh had visited His people.” It is a statement of faith in God’s sovereign providence that she says in Ruth 1:8, “Yahweh deal khessed-ly (according to steadfast love) with you” and in Ruth 1:9, “Yahweh grant that you may find rest.” It is even a statement of faith in God’s sovereign providence that she says that “the hand of Yahweh has gone out against me” in Ruth 1:13!

But, I wonder if your faith in the Lord sometimes produces mixed results due to a too-large view of the difficulties of your circumstances. The bulk of this passage is spent on Naomi’s statements. And the bulk of those statements is spent on the impossibility of husbands being found again in Naomi’s womb (Ruth 1:11-13).

Naomi has forgotten that the Lord always does His people the best good, even through the hardest promises. To be fair, at this point she is still saying that it grieves her for her daughters’ sakes that Yahweh has done this. But, shouldn’t she be pointing them to Him who always does good? What good is a husband without the one true God?

The book of Ruth is about the Lord’s turning Naomi’s bitterness sweet, as He weaves her into the line from which our Lord Jesus comes.  And as He does so, He demonstrates patience with real faith that is still really imperfect—faith like each of ours!
What situation has you discouraged? What can you be certain the Lord is doing in it?
Suggested Songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge” or TPH256 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

2019.11.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 6:35-51

Questions from the Scripture text: What did Jesus call Himself in John 6:35? What will those who come to Him never do? What will those who believe in Him never do? What does Jesus say the people who have seen Him still aren’t doing in John 6:36? Who will come to Jesus (John 6:37)? What will Jesus by no means do to the one who comes to Him? What had Jesus come down from heaven to do (John 6:38)? What does the Father will Jesus should do with all whom He has given to Him (John 6:39)? Whom does the Father will to have everlasting life and be raised up at the last day (John 6:40)? Why did the Jews complain about Him (John 6:41)? What did the people call Jesus and note about His parents (John 6:42)? What did Jesus tell them not to do in John 6:43? What has to happen for someone to come to Jesus (John 6:44)? What will Jesus do with them on the last day? What does John 6:45 say is written? From whom have those who come to Jesus heard and learned? Who has seen the Father (John 6:46)? Who has everlasting life (John 6:47)? What does Jesus say about Himself again in John 6:48? What does Jesus say will not happen to those who eat this bread (John 6:49-50)? What does Jesus call Himself in John 6:51? Who will live forever? What is the bread that He will give? For what will Jesus give His flesh? 
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin all come from John 6:35-51. This passage is one of the most important for understanding what Jesus means by eating His flesh and drinking His blood.

It is the one who comes to Him that will never hunger. It is the one who believes in Him that will never thirst. So, eating Jesus’s flesh and drinking Jesus’s blood is to come to Him and to believe in Him.

There’s just one difficulty: no one comes to Jesus unless the Father drags him to Jesus (John 6:44). The Father is the One who makes us to hear about Jesus and learn about Jesus (John 6:45).

But, as we consider the passage, this is more encouraging than discouraging. If we were to come to Jesus on our own, our coming to Him would never be dependable. But, with even our coming to Jesus being God’s own work, His saving us is absolutely sure.

All that the Father gives to Jesus WILL come to Jesus. The one who comes to Jesus will NOT be cast out. Jesus will lose not a single one of them.

Those who want to argue about Jesus’s ability to do what He says put themselves in the place of the murmuring people in our passage. Rather than struggle against what the Scripture says about Jesus, let us heed what Jesus tells us. Let us come to Him! Let us believe in Him! And let us give Him all the glory for granting to us to be able to come!
If only God can do something, what should we do, if we want Him to do it? 
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome”

Monday, November 04, 2019

2019.11.04 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?
The verb translated “said” in Genesis 21:7 is not ordinarily used in telling history, like the ones in Genesis 21:1-2. It is almost always found in poetry, suggesting that Sarah is singing a joyous song of “Isaac” (literally, “laughter”!).

It also shares the consonants of the root for the word “circumcised” in Genesis 21:4, so that the play on words here is strong. The Lord’s promise—He is the One who “said” to Abraham that Sarah would have a child—had been set before Abraham in his own circumcision, and its fulfillment has been seen now in Isaac’s.

We are to find the Lord’s Word faithful. What He says, He will do. Exactly as He says, He will do. Exactly as He commands, we must do.

We are to find the Lord’s Word gladdening. The fact of the matter is that what God promises is to do infinite good to sinners, opposite what they deserve or are able, for the sake of His promise, and that Christ whom He has promised. As these promises come true, we are made to laugh with joy.

We are to find the Lord’s Word strengthened by His signs and strengthening to His signs. In connection with His covenant, God gave Abraham a physical sign that would direct him to look to God’s promise as his only hope for himself, and also as his only hope for his children. When God brings true part of what the sign shows, He also has that sign put upon Isaac—a sign for which Abraham now has an increased appreciation. Baptism and the Supper do this for us today. They remind us that it is for Christ’s sake, and by Christ’s life and power, that God has done us the good that we have received thus far. And that His future goodness to us rests securely upon that very same Christ.
What are past things Christ has done for you? What are future ones He has promised?
Suggested Songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH517 “I Know Whom I Have Believed”

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”