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)

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Five Ways God Shows Us Ourselves and Himself (Family Worship in Genesis 32:1–12)

Pastor leads his family in today's Hopewell @Home passage. Genesis 32:1–12 presents us with five ways that God brings to our attention our own unworthiness and His abundant goodness to unworthy sinners in Christ.

Protecting—and Being Protected by—Your Marriage (Family Worship in Prov 5:15–20)

Pastor leads his family in considering vv15–20 of "the Proverb of the day." God has given marriage many good purposes, so we must guard against threats to marriage. Once married, fostering that relationship protects us against the sins that threaten us and our marriages.

How to Rightly Do Whatever You Like on the Lord's Day (2020.09.05 Pastoral Letter and Hopewell Herald)

Hopewell Herald – September 5, 2020

Dear Congregation,

In the Prayer Meeting Lesson this week, we were reminded that “receiving whatever we ask” is dependent upon our asking for the very best things (cp. Psa 37:4–6). If we aren’t, then prayer that follows after Scripture is actually one way that the Lord changes the desires of our heart. 

It occurred to me that this is closely related to God’s great goodness that was proclaimed to us in the 4th commandment last Lord’s Day. 

We can do “whatever we find most restful” on the Lord’s Day, so long as what we find most restful is Him Himself, in those activities in which He gives Himself to us most directly and immediately—particularly in the holy assembly of His holy day in which we enter the Holy of Holies in glory to commune with Him at the throne of grace. 

And, if this is not currently what we find most restful/delightful, we rejoice to know that He has appointed for us to grow in this delight precisely by our keeping of His day (cf. Isa 58:13–14). 

The Lord is so good to us, and this command of His is so good to us, that we ought to grieve if we find our spirits either resisting it or finding pride in keeping it as if it were some kind of burden that superchristians meritoriously carry. 

It reminds me of Dr. Currid, my Old Testament professor who was taking us through the commandments. After opening up what a great gift the Sabbath was to Israel in their context, and even better to us in the context of Christ having gone through the veil, he called on a student who began to ask, “Would it be breaking the fourth commandment if I…” 

Dr. Currid folded his arms and interrupted, “You just broke the fourth commandment, and it’s not even the Lord’s Day. He has consecrated the day as holy for what He wants us to do, which is infinitely better than anything else you could want to do, but you still want to see what other things you can do instead.” 

Now, I hope that I would take the blame in retelling the story, if I were the student who had asked. But, I think that the reason it has stuck with me through all these years is because of how often my own heart has begun to say, “I wonder if it would be ok to…” 

May the Lord grant to us an increasing delight in Him, where our hearts more and more naturally celebrate that God has been so good as to set apart a day entirely for worship! 

Looking forward to that day and that worship together with you, 

Pastor

2020.09.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 32:1–12

 Read Genesis 32:1–12

Questions from the Scripture text: Who met Jacob after he departed from Laban (Genesis 32:1)? What did Jacob say when he saw them (Genesis 32:2)? What did he call the name of the place? Who sends messengers to whom in Genesis 32:3? Where does Jacob say he has been (Genesis 32:4)? What does Jacob say that he has (Genesis 32:5)? What does he hope to obtain? When the messengers return, whom do they say is coming (Genesis 32:6)? And whom else? How does Jacob feel about this news (Genesis 32:7)? What does he do with all of his people and livestock? What is his reasoning (Genesis 32:8) for this? Then Whom does Jacob address in Genesis 32:9? What does he call Him? What does Jacob say about himself in Genesis 32:10? With what had he crossed over the Jordan? What is his condition now? For what does he ask at the beginning of Genesis 32:11? What does he say that he feared from Esau? Of Whose words does Jacob remind God in Genesis 32:12? What had God said? 

Jacob had just escaped Laban’s ill intentions toward him, when he is about to come into the country where Esau had settled down. To prepare Jacob for this, the Lord permits him to see beings (Genesis 32:1) whom he recognizes from his vision in Genesis 28:12.

This is a reminder not only of how much the Lord has blessed Jacob (Genesis 32:4-5Genesis 32:10b), but also of the circumstances of that previous encounter—running for his life from Esau! Jacob realizes that Esau will be curious and maybe even (understandably) suspicious of all this company coming through his territory, so he sends a delegation ahead to explain (Genesis 32:3). But the news they bring back is that Esau is on his way with a force larger than that which grandpa Abraham used to defeat the winning coalition of a world war (Genesis 32:6, cf. Genesis 14:14).

It can be quite profitable to our souls to be brought from one extremity into another. And Jacob has certainly gone from the frying pan to the proverbial fire. His immediate reflex is to come up with his own plan in Genesis 32:7-8, but even this does not seem like a pleasant prospect—that half of his family and property might face annihilation.

Having just seen the angels in Genesis 32:1, he now remembers the promise that the Lord had made him the first time he had seen God’s angels (Genesis 32:9Genesis 32:12). Suddenly, he seems to realize that God has already done for him far more than he had any right to ask or hope (Genesis 32:10). But, rather than making him shrink from asking, this lesson in the character of God actually drives the plea of Genesis 32:11.

God is graciously loving and reliably faithful. When you have come to know that God shows steadfast love to those who are unworthy of it, you respond by pleading your own unworthiness as you ask Him for steadfast love! When you realize that God has perfectly kept His Word thus far, you plead His promises back to Him and ask Him to keep them all!

Now, dear Christian, haven’t you discovered that God is the God who shows unfathomable love to you, in direct contradiction to your unworthiness? And haven’t you learned that it is especially in Christ and for the sake of Christ that He keeps all of His great and glorious promises to you? Whether or not He has brought you into a season of extremity you are able to say with Jacob, “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant.” Call upon this God in your day of trouble!

What undeserved mercies has the Lord shown you? In what current trouble do you need more?

Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH23A “The Lord’s My Shepherd”


Friday, September 4, 2020

2020.09.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 8:1–3

 Read Luke 8:1–3

Questions from the Scripture text: Through where did Jesus go (Luke 8:1)? How does v1 summarize what He was doing? Who were with Him? Who else, Luke 8:2, were with Him? Which Mary, and what had happened to her? And who else in Luke 8:3? What was Joanna’s husband’s job? Who else is specifically named? How many other women? What did they do for Him? 

Our Lord here gives us a summary of what His work was during the three years of His earthly ministry: preaching. And the evangelist will proceed in the next section to give us some samples of that preaching.

There is an emphasis here upon the diligence and persistence of our Redeemer. He went through every city, preaching. And He did not neglect those who were less impressive in the eyes of the world. He also went through every village, preaching.

And what was He preaching? The second word for the proclamation is actually built out of the word for the ‘gospel’—in all of His proclaiming, the main thing was to announce the good news of the kingdom of God!

This is how the twelve became not just apostles but evangelists. They had been with Jesus (Luke 8:1) for all of this preaching, and in everything they addressed in their preaching, they learned to have at its center the good news of King Jesus and His kingdom. We see this everywhere in their writing, and rejoice that it is Christ Himself who addresses us in the Lord’s Day assemblies (Romans 10:14–15; Hebrews 3–4; Hebrews 12:22–29).

Those who hope that one day they may be missionaries or preachers or elders—or even husbands or fathers, both of whom have the same task—must learn first to attend to Christ’s own proclamation. It is from Him that we learn gospel preaching.

Not everyone can be a preacher, however, so the ladies mentioned in Luke 8:2-3 did what the Lord gave them ability to do. Some had been healed of evil spirits. Others had been healed of sicknesses. Many, undoubtedly, had been healed of both. 

These did what they could for our Lord, as so many members of His “Proverbs 31” bride. In every diligence and frugality that produced some means, they provided for Christ from their substance.

What a glorious opportunity! Many a believing girl or boy (or man or woman!) has learned this privilege: they may not be called (or permitted) to stand in the pulpit or be missionaries, but they may express their thankfulness to the Lord by giving sacrificially. And how great an honor! 

It is wonderful to know that the Holy Spirit noted, in the pages of Holy Scripture, these women who gave sacrificially to help finance Christ’s ministry. He who commands shekels into fish mouths and multiples wine and bread and fish had no need. But He gave them opportunity and memorialized their giving in Holy Scripture.

So also let us exercise diligence and frugality that we may also take such opportunity and lay claim to such honor with those whom our Lord has called to preach His gospel.

What are you learning, whenever you read Scripture or hear it proclaimed? What opportunities have you taken to participate in Christ’s program of proclaiming His gospel? 

Suggested songs: ARP95B “Today, If You Will Hear His Voice” or TPH170 “God, in the Gospel of His Son”


Thursday, September 3, 2020

How to Receive Whatever You Ask in Prayer (2020.09.02 Prayer Meeting Devotional)

Not only is "And whatever we ask, we receive from Him" a real promise; it is an even better promise than you had previously thought!

2020.09.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 4:15

 Read Ephesians 4:15

Questions from the Scripture text: What does love do (not just say)? What does this “truthing” make us do? Into Whom do we grow? In how many areas do we grow? What body-part does this verse call the One into Whom we grow? By what title does it refer to Him?

In the previous verse, the apostle had warned us that one of the places that doctrinal diversity comes from is by “cunning craftiness and deceitful plotting.” Now, he tells us that love does exactly the opposite of that!

Literally, our verse begins, “but, truthing in love…” What does love do? It “truths.” This is far more than the “speaking” that most English translations insert to make sense of the interesting way in which the apostle speaks here.

It is a receiving of the truth as a gift from Christ (Ephesians 4:11–12)— both that we come under the ministry of evangelists and then pastor-teachers in the Word given by apostles and prophets, and that we also believe what that word teaches and commit to whatever it commands. It is a striving to keep together—both by keeping up ourselves, and by helping others come along—as our congregation grows in learning and understanding (Ephesians 4:13). It is receiving and believing and speaking and living… all according to the words on the pages of holy Scripture.

So, we truth because truthing is what love does. But we also truth because truthing is how Christians grow.

To ask if someone wishes to grow into Christ is basically to ask if someone is a Christian. If someone does not want to grow into Christ, this would immediately call into question any claim that he made to have saving faith in Christ. But, the only ones who wish to grow up into Christ are those who rejoice to have Christ as their Head, and to be members (joints/body-parts, cf. Ephesians 4:16) of His body.

OF COURSE we wish to grow up into Christ! But it can be surprising to discover how many believers don’t know that Jesus has a way of growing us up into Himself. This verse tells us: by love-driven truthing. Love does many things. But the thing that it does that results in our growing up into Christ is its truthing.

What aspects of Scripture teaching, then, should we be seeking to receive and believe and speak and live unitedly in our fellowship with one another? Well, in which ways should we wish to grow up into Christ? ALL of them! And that’s exactly what our Scripture says: that when we truth in love, that it is in all things that we grow up into Christ. His Word addresses every part of knowing Him, loving Him, and living for Him. Because it is His means for growing us up into Him in every single way!

Theological truth from the Bible will be at the heart of everything in a true and healthy church, precisely because theological truth from the Bible is at the heart of everything in a true and healthy Christian. It is how our Head grows us up into Himself in all things!

What are you doing to keep up with what your own congregation is learning from the Bible? How are you living it out? Whom are you helping bring along?

Suggested songs: ARP19B “The Lord’s Most Perfect Law” or TPH172 “Speak, O Lord”


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

2020.09.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Samuel 16:1–13

 Read 1 Samuel 16:1–13

Questions from the Scripture text: For what does Yahweh challenge Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:1? What does He command him to do? To whom does He command him to go? Why? What objection does Samuel raise in 1 Samuel 16:2? What else, then, does Yahweh say for Samuel to do there? Whom is Samuel to invite to the sacrifice (1 Samuel 16:3)? Whom will Samuel anoint? How did the elders of Bethlehem respond to Samuel’s arrival (1 Samuel 16:4)? What do they ask? How does Samuel answer (1 Samuel 16:5)? What does he say he is doing? Whom does he invite? Whom does Samuel notice in 1 Samuel 16:6? What does he say about him? What does Yahweh tell Samuel not to look at (1 Samuel 16:7)? What has Yahweh done to Eliab? Upon what does man look? Upon what does Yahweh look? Whom does Jesse select next (1 Samuel 16:8)? But what does Samuel say? Whom does Jesse select in 1 Samuel 16:9? What does Samuel say? How many more does 1 Samuel 16:10 say Jesse sent before Samuel? But how does Samuel respond to them? What does Samuel ask in 1 Samuel 16:11? How does Jesse answer? What does Samuel then say to do? What does 1 Samuel 16:12 tell us about his outward appearance? And what does He who looks on the heart say for Samuel to do? What did Samuel do in 1 Samuel 16:13? What else comes upon David, besides oil? For how long? Where does Samuel go?  

The Lord alone is the Hero of His people’s story. Samuel had a great start. A godly upbringing, until he was committed to the priestly service for life. The Lord speaking directly to him at a young age, and directly through him throughout his life. He’s the one who can see clearly the wickedness of Saul and speaks on the Lord’s behalf. But, this passage really highlights his shortcomings.

Most of us make the mistake of failing to mourn over sin and over the dangers to God’s people of leadership that caters to the congregation but offends its God. So, we’re almost incapable of making Samuel’s mistake in 1 Samuel 16:1, because we do not imitate God’s heart from 1 Samuel 15:35. But, when God does bring us to mourn over sin (whether ours or others’), let us heed the redirection in verse 1: the Lord isn’t done working yet, and He is the Hero of His story.

Samuel adds blunder to blunder, almost anointing Saul 2.0 (1 Samuel 16:6-7, cf. 1 Samuel 10:23–24). This is even worse because the Yahweh had already said, “you shall anoint for Me the one I name to you” (1 Samuel 16:3). So, he was actually speaking out of turn in 1 Samuel 16:6. It was the Lord Himself who said the new king was the one that He had seen (“provided” in 1 Samuel 16:1, is literally “seen”), and He has to remind Samuel that it isn’t what he sees (1 Samuel 16:6) that matters, but what the Yahweh sees (1 Samuel 16:7).

True to His Word, as soon as “the youngest” is in front of Samuel, Yahweh says, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” (1 Samuel 16:12a). And what Samuel does with the oil, Yahweh does with His Spirit, in 1 Samuel 16:13.

There was a genuine difference between what God did in David’s heart, and the unconverted condition of Saul’s heart—submissiveness of heart to Yahweh’s commandments (cf. 1 Samuel 13:14). David was pretty good looking actually (cf. 1 Samuel 16:12a). But what Yahweh saw (and provided) was that David was His choice, and pleasing to Him.

David’s Son (and Lord!) Jesus Christ would later be anointed with water at the baptism of John. And there, too, the Spirit of the Lord came down upon Him (cf. Matthew 3:16). Though there was nothing visibly attractive about Jesus to us (cf. Isaiah 53:2), the Lord announced from heaven what He saw, “This is my Son! I love Him! I am delighted with Him!” (cf. Matthew 3:17). And, just as with David, the Spirit coming upon the Lord Jesus was the beginning of many troubles for Him (cf. Matthew 4:1–11, and culminating in the crucifixion itself). 

Jesus is our perfectly obedient and victorious King, whom the Lord has provided. And Jesus is the One Whom the Lord sees, when He looks at you, if you belong to Christ by faith. He transforms us to walk in good works from the heart (cf. Ephesians 2:8–10). And it is this heart-transformation (and not good looks, slick presentation, big bank account, or worldly influence) that is the way by which God shows us whom He has chosen to be undershepherds in Christ’s church (cf. 1 Timothy 3:1–7, Titus 1:5–9).

Whom does God see when He looks at you? What changes/condition of heart does He see?

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH286 “Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder”


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

2020.09.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 4:17–5:2

 Read Ephesians 4:17–5:2

Questions from the Scripture text: How does the apostle introduce his instruction in Ephesians 4:17, to emphasize its seriousness? What does he say no longer to do? How do the rest of the Gentiles walk? What is the condition of their understanding (Ephesians 4:18)? What is their relationship to “the life of God”? What is in them that keeps them alienated? What is the condition of their heart? What are they past (Ephesians 4:19)? To what have they given themselves over? What do they “work”? But what (whom) have the Ephesians believers learned (Ephesians 4:20)? Whom have those who have learned Christ heard (Ephesians 4:21)? By Whom have they been taught? In Whom is the truth? Concerning their former conduct, what are they to put off (Ephesians 4:22)? What happens to the old man? Through what? What does the apostle command them to do in Ephesians 4:23? How? What are they to put on (Ephesians 4:24)? How was this new man created? In what was this new man created? What are they to put away (Ephesians 4:25)? What are they to speak instead? Why? What two boundaries does Ephesians 4:26 put on the believer’s anger? What happens if we do not put these boundaries on our anger (Ephesians 4:27)? What must the one who was converted from stealing stop doing (Ephesians 4:28)? What must he do instead? What is a second reason for him to work hard? What shouldn’t a believer allow out of his mouth (Ephesians 4:29)? What should be the only thing a believer speaks? In order to do what? What does failing to follow these instructions put us in danger of doing (Ephesians 4:30)? What has the Holy Spirit done to believers unto the day of redemption? What six things does Ephesians 4:31 command us to put away from us? How are we to be toward one another (Ephesians 4:32)? Out of what kind of heart? What will we need to do to one another if this is to be the case? Who has done it to us first and how? So, when we forgive one another, Whom are we imitating (Ephesians 5:1)? What are we enjoying and showing about ourselves as we imitate Him? In what are we to walk (Ephesians 5:2)? Whom are we imitating in that? What did Christ do in that love? How did His giving Himself for us function toward God? 

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Confession of Sin come from Ephesians 4:17–5:2 in order that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Gracious Spirit, Dwell with Me.

Christian living is theological. We become children of God who imitate Father (Ephesians 5:1) and Christ (Ephesians 5:2) by being renewed in our mind (Ephesians 4:23) by the Spirit (Ephesians 4:23Ephesians 4:30).

It is futility of mind (Ephesians 4:17), dark understanding (Ephesians 4:18), ignorance (verse 18), and blindness (verse 18) which result in the wickedness in which believers once walked (Ephesians 4:31) and in which unbelievers continue to talk (Ephesians 4:19).

But what happens when we “learn” Christ (Ephesians 4:20)? When we learn “the truth as it is in Jesus” (Ephesians 4:21)? It changes our conduct. Taking heaven’s true perspective on things is the way the “new man” of Ephesians 4:24 thinks, and it results in the holiness of that new man’s conduct. 

Holy living means speaking truth instead of lying (Ephesians 4:25a). It means recognizing that believers are members of one another (verse 25b). It means recognizing that anger is a passion that must be controlled, because it makes us vulnerable to the devil (Ephesians 4:26-27). It means working hard—not only for what we need, but also so that we can be generous as God and Christ have been to us (Ephesians 4:28). It means recognizing edification as the purpose for which our gracious God created words, and imitating Him in that too (Ephesians 4:29). It means that the kindness and forgiveness that God has shown us become the baseline for how we interact with others (Ephesians 4:32). 

Since the Holy Spirit is the One who is producing this in us, because He is our guarantee that the work will be completed in the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30), that we think about how our thought and conduct affect Him—that we should hate to grieve the One Who loves us so much.

Theology is the study of a God who loved so much that He gave Himself. So, theology is the foundation of lives in which we learn love from Him and give ourselves as He gave Himself.

By what means are you seeking to grow theologically? What fruit should this produce?

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


Monday, August 31, 2020

A Day Devoted to Delighting in the Lord Jesus (2020.08.30 Morning Sermon in Exodus 20:8–11)



The Lord has given us a weekly day to be renewed in Him. We are to remember what the day is for and devote the day entirely to that purpose.

Privilege, Providence, and Priorities (1) (2020.08.30 Sabbath School)

The only true and lasting privilege is to receive everything as a gift from, and an assignment for, the Lord. Desire for more than that, or employing it in any other way, is a prescription for disappointment, disaster, and destruction.

All Civil Authority Is under—and Limited by—Christ (2020.08.30 Evening Sermon in Romans 12:18–13:10)

Jesus Christ is at the top of the chain of command of civil government. The only reason that we are to obey anyone is because we are to obey Him. If government is wicked, we will often have to disobey in order to obey Jesus. "Rebellion" must always come out of an obedient spirit unto Christ, not a contrarian spirit against men—and in this way can be done out of love rather than fear.

A lesser magistrate will often have to countermand the directive or action of someone above him, in order properly to fulfill the authority and care entrusted to him by the One at the head of the chain and command. If we love our neighbors, we ought to be training up men to be in the positions of these lesser magistrates by whom Christ's appointed good in the civil magistrate may be done.

Only Christ's law can determine what is good and evil, a law that is written on men's hearts and observable in creation and providence, but is most plainly and fully detailed in the Scriptures.

2020.08.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 20:8–11

 Read Exodus 20:8–11

Questions from the Scripture text: With what command does Exodus 20:8 begin? What are we to remember? What are we to do with that day? How many other days are there in a week (Exodus 20:9)? How much of our labor and work are we to do on that day? But what is the seventh day (Exodus 20:10)? Whose Sabbath is it? What are we not do upon it? Whom else is not to work upon it? What else is not to work upon it? To what people (role), then, is this commandment especially addressed (hint: cf. WLC 118)? Who established this pattern for man to follow (Exodus 20:11)? What did He do in six days? What did He do on the seventh? What two things did He do to the day that defines this “resting”?

Sometimes, we are tempted to think of the Lord’s Day as a day of resting or refreshment. The fourth commandment, properly obeyed, will result in rest and refreshment only if we find the Lord Himself restful and the Lord Himself refreshing.

As we can see in Exodus 20:8, the basic commandment is to remember and to consecrate.

First, we are to remember that it is the Sabbath of Yahweh our God. If we are moving right along in a particular mode, laboring and doing all our work, we may be forgetful when we come to a day that is not for those things. So, the first part of obedience here is remembering that the day is different.

Second, we are to consecrate the day. That is: we are to set it apart as holy, i.e., wholly devoted unto the purpose for which God Himself has consecrated it. 

We know, of course, that God needs no rest. In fact, He did not need to take six days to create. 

These things He has done for us because of our need to devote ourselves entirely to Him. Even when man had not yet fallen, the Lord gave him a day to come apart from serving in the creation in order to directly act upon the Creator Himself in service. This is what we call worship service.

When Jesus identifies Himself as the Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12), He declares Himself to be greater than David, greater even than the temple. He is the Lord unto Whose worship the day had always been set apart as holy, the One in Whom we are meant to find our rest.

But He declared this in the midst of accomplishing our redemption, so that it is no surprise that He changed the timing of the day to emphasize that we are acting upon Him Who is not just our Creator, but also our Redeemer!

It is a hideous wickedness when we twist the Lord’s Day to make it about our rest and refreshment in the abstract—as if things that we find more restful or refreshing than Jesus properly fulfill the purposes of the day. Such thinking successfully exposes how profane we are, but certainly does not justify spending the day in such ways!

Thankfully, the Day itself, properly kept, is filled with the means of His grace, and especially designed to root this profaneness out of our hearts. As He promises in the new-covenant section of Isaiah, if we call His Sabbath a delight, then our delight will be in Him Himself.

What/Whom should you find most restful? To grow in this, what must you do to the Lord’s Day?

Suggested songs: ARP118D “Now Open Wide the Gates” or TPH153 “O Day of Rest and Gladness”