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)

Thursday, September 24, 2020

2020.09.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 4:25–30

Read Ephesians 4:25–30

Questions from the Scripture text: What are we to put away altogether in Ephesians 4:25? But what can we sometimes do without sinning in Ephesians 4:26a? What is one key to this righteous anger (verse 26b)? If we don’t manage our anger properly, to whom do we give place (Ephesians 4:27)? Who else must stop what he was doing altogether (Ephesians 4:28a)? What should he do instead (verse 28b)? What kind of work should he do? What should he hope to do with his earnings (verse 28c)? What shouldn’t we let proceed from our mouth (Ephesians 4:29a)? What should we let proceed (verse 29b)? That it may do what? Whom must we not grieve (Ephesians 4:30a)? What has been done by Him, for what (verse 30b)? 

There’s a cosmic tug of war in every Christian’s life and thought. The Holy Spirit is always with us, since it is by Him that we have been sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30), and the devil is always ready to take whatever ground we are foolish and wicked enough to give him (Ephesians 4:27). If we aren’t mindful of both, we can end up living quite ignorantly of the cosmic war that rages in the ordinary context of our living out the mind and life of Christ in us (cf. chapters 5–6)

There can be no neutrality in this war. It is not enough to put on the quality from Christ by His Spirit; you must put off the corresponding quality from the old man. It is not enough to put off the corresponding quality from the old man; you must put on the new man as well. This verses give us four examples of this putting off and putting on. The putting off helps the putting on. The putting on helps the putting off.

Three things are to be put away entirely: lying, stealing, and corrupt speech.

Not only are we to put away lying; we are to intentionally pursue speaking truth with one another, in light of what we learned in Ephesians 4:11-16 about how the body functions. 

Not only are we to stop stealing, cold turkey, but the new man cares about what kind of job he has (“working with his hands what is good”—hands here being a synecdoche for any and all of his own faculties) and what he does with his earnings (focusing not merely on provision for himself, but especially upon provision for others: family, extended family, church, extended church family, neighbors, etc.)

Not only are we to cut off entirely the flow of a single corrupt word, but the new man is crafting good words that impart grace, because he knows (again, from the body-function lesson in verses 11–16) how needful this is for the hearers’ being built up in Christ.

Interestingly, anger is not one of those things that we are to put off entirely. If we think about it a little, this becomes obvious because, whereas Scripture tells us that God cannot lie (cf. Titus 1:2) and that all His Words are pure words (cf. Psalm 12:6, Proverbs 30:5), the same Bible actually teaches us frequently that God is angry (cf. Psalm 7:11, etc.). 

So, Ephesians 4:26 actually begins with the command to be furious (the word can mean trembling with anger or even enraged). If we are never furious, we have made little progress in being renewed in the spirit of our mind (cf. Ephesians 4:23). Righteous anger, however, is the opposite of stewing resentment or bitterness (Ephesians 4:26b) that leaves us especially prone to the devil (Ephesians 4:27, cf. 2 Corinthians 2:10–11, 1 Peter 5:6–8).

In each of these cases, we are to fight both against the devil and with the Spirit (cf. Galatians 5:16–18), rejoicing that the Spirit cannot fail to win this tug-of-war for the believer’s mind and conduct.

What are you currently working to put off/on? What do you correspondingly need to put on/off?

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH400 “Gracious Spirit, Dwell with Me”

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

2020.09.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Samuel 18:1–16

Read 1 Samuel 18:1–16

Questions from the Scripture text: When David is done debriefing with the king, who sees him, and how does he respond (1 Samuel 18:1)? What does Saul put a stop to at that point (1 Samuel 18:2)? What do Jonathan and David do (1 Samuel 18:3a) and why (verse 3b)? What five things does Jonathan give David in 1 Samuel 18:4? Where does David go (1 Samuel 18:5)? What does he do? Whom is he over? How is he received? By whom? From what was David returning in 1 Samuel 18:6? Who had come out from where? What were they doing? Whom were they meeting? But what did they say in their singing and dancing (1 Samuel 18:7)? How did Saul feel about this (1 Samuel 18:8)? Why? What did he begin to do on that day (1 Samuel 18:9)? What happened on the next day (1 Samuel 18:10)? What Saul doing under this spirit? Who did what and why? But what was different this time? What did Saul do, and why, in 1 Samuel 18:11? How many times? Who was afraid of whom in 1 Samuel 18:12? Why? What does Saul do out of this fear (1 Samuel 18:13a)? Where does he put David instead? What does David do (1 Samuel 18:14a)? How/why (verse 14b)? Who recognizes this as the cause, and how does he respond (1 Samuel 18:15)? How do all Israel and Judah respond (1 Samuel 18:16)? 

Beloved, let us look to God for grace to guard our hearts against jealousy. We’ve known for a couple chapters now that the Lord is against Saul. What a dreadful thing—to have the Lord against you! And what does the Lord use, here, to bring down the one against whom He has set Himself? 

Jealousy: “David has their hearts, which makes him an enemy of my crown” (1 Samuel 18:8). Never mind that it was to Saul that they were coming out with joy and song and dance (1 Samuel 18:6), and that they attributed the slaying of thousands unto him (1 Samuel 18:7), and that it is implied praise to him that he has chosen David as his righthand man (1 Samuel 18:21 Samuel 18:5). 

Jealousy is irrational; that’s how it works—especially when we think beyond our circumstances to the truth that we brought nothing into this world (1 Timothy 6:7), and that everything that we are or have is the grace of God to us to begin with (1 Corinthians 4:7).

But what if the world is irrationally against us, as Saul was against David? David’s faith operates understandingly; it is the opposite of jealousy. Then let us seek to have the same strength as this passage emphasizes about David: that the Lord is with us (1 Samuel 18:121 Samuel 18:14). And let us seek to respond with the same skill as this passage emphasizes about David: that we would behave wisely (literally, “understandingly” in 1 Samuel 18:51 Samuel 18:141 Samuel 18:15). 

Jealousy is much concerned with whether circumstances or people seem to be for us. Faith says, “the Lord is for me, and knowing this frees me to live for the Lord.” If you are a Christian, this is the fundamental reality of your life: “The Lord is with me in Jesus Christ.” And if that is true, this is the fundamental response of your life: “Let me live for the Lord according to the understanding that His Word gives.”

How do you decrease focus upon people’s opinion and increase focus upon God’s favor?

Suggested songs: ARP56B “You Have Recorded All My Ways” or TPH515 “More Than Conquerors”

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

2020.09.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 26:6–12

Read Psalm 26:6–12

Questions from the Scripture text: In what does the psalmist wash his hands (Psalm 26:6a)? But what does this enable him to approach (verse 6b)? With what voice does he proclaim something there (Psalm 26:7a)? Of what does he tell in this proclaiming (verse 7b)? What has the psalmist loved in Psalm 26:8a? What else does he call it (verse 8b)? By contrast, where doesn’t he want to be gathered (Psalm 26:9a)? What else does he call them, and what do they endanger (verse 9b)? What does he expect to find in their hands (Psalm 26:10a)? And what in their right hand (verse 10b)? But what does the psalmist need to walk in instead (Psalm 26:11a)? How would this happen (verse 11b)? On what footing would this put him (Psalm 26:12a)? And what would the ultimate response to this be (verse 12b)?

Next week’s Prayer for Help comes from Psalm 26:6–12 in order that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord.

The hand-washing station stood halfway between the tabernacle tent and the altar for sacrifice. Psalm 26:6-8 rejoice over public worship and the preparation for it. God’s mercy is presented to him at the altar of sacrifice. God’s glory is presented to him in “the tabernacle of Your glory” as Psalm 26:8 literally calls it. And washing hands according to God’s Word is the first step toward each.

The Old Testament believer, then, came to worship in the same way we do: not by the merit of how well he had done but by looking to Jesus. In baptism, Jesus has held out to us His cleansing of us in innocence as at the laver. In the supper, Jesus has held out to us His sacrifice as at the altar. And Jesus Himself is our Immanuel—God who has tabernacled among us, and we beheld His glory (cf. John 1:14).

The danger of being gathered to the world, and endangering our life by them or being like them, is set forth in Psalm 26:9-10, before the Psalm returns us in Psalm 26:11-12 to the joyous gathering with God’s people unto their redeeming, merciful God.

Though it is coming to God through Christ that saves, the separation from the world and rejection of its sin always accompanies it. The way that we say this theologically is that “only faith saves, but faith is always accompanied by repentance.” Or you may have heard it put, “justified by faith alone, but justifying faith is never alone.”

In this Psalm, it’s put in terms of thanksgiving and love and desire. The holy Lord and the sinful worldlings are at such complete odds that love for and delight in the Lord cannot coexist with keeping the company of worldlings.

But aren’t we worldlings? This is why we need redemption and grace (Psalm 26:11). It is Jesus who has saved us from being worldlings by washing us, atoning for us, and uniting us to Himself through faith!

Who are your companions? What does this say about your trust in and desire for Jesus?

Suggested songs: ARP26 “Lord, Vindicate Me” or TPH405 “I Love Thy Kingdom Lord”

Monday, September 21, 2020

Life from Christ via Theology (2020.09.20 Evening Sermon in Ephesians 4:17–25)

Those who are still in Adam are spiritually brain-dead and alienated from the life of God. If we are to put off the old man and put on the new man, we need that life of God that Christ gives to us, as One Whom we learn and hear, and by Whom we are taught. Theological instruction is central to the mission of the church, because the church is Christ's mission, and this is Christ's method.

Feeding Together on Earth upon the Lord Jesus in Heaven (2020.09.20 Lord's Supper Table Lesson in 1Cor 11:22–34)

It's not a household meal; it's a church meal. Christ calls His church to wait for one another, because they are to feed together upon Him.