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 12, 2020

"On Being Presbyterian" (2020.09.12 Pastoral Letter and Hopewell Herald)

Hopewell Herald – September 12, 2020

Dear Congregation, 

Please see Karen’s announcement about conference food below. Also, the Conference PDF is attached, as well as being available at bit.ly/harpc200th and prominently linked from the Hopewell website. 

If you’ve got friends who are interested in learning what a Presbyterian is, or maybe you yourself are wondering, the anniversary conference is a great opportunity for that. 

The word comes from the word presbyter, elder. In a church (Presbyterian’s prefer the word “church” to “denomination”) name, it basically means that we believe that the Lord Jesus shepherds and teaches His church through a plurality of elders in a particular congregation, and gives churches in a region accountability through meetings (which they call “courts”) in that region. 

Sometimes, you might hear “higher” court, but to understand it the way Presbyterians mean it, it is better to think in terms of “broader” court. It’s very important to note that there is no office above elder at all—that all the elders in a congregation or a region are on equal footing before Christ and submit to him by submitting to their brother elders. 

We see that in the New Testament, the elders sat in Session (the word “Session” means “sitting” and refers to when the elders are seated as a body to govern, rather than functioning as individuals or informally as a group) with the apostles at the first “General Assembly” in Acts 15. And, the apostle Peter refers to himself as a fellow-elder with them in 1Peter 5:1. So, depending upon how large is the region that the elders are coming from, you might hear these broader courts referred to as Presbytery, Synod, or General Assembly. (By retaining the name ‘Synod’, it implies that the ARP is still hoping to be reunited with other Reformed Presbyterian synods into a General Assembly!) 

So basically, a Presbyterian is a Christian who sees that in the Bible, Jesus has a particular way of leading His church. You might also hear us called ‘Reformed’—which refers to the fact that there are many things that Jesus has a particular way of doing, that had been lost by the “Roman Catholic” church in the centuries leading up to the “Reformation.” 

All branches of the Reformation agreed that Jesus has a particular way of speaking to His church (through the Bible, sola scriptura) and that Jesus has a particular way of saving sinners (by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone; sola gratia, sola fide, solus Christus)—and that no mere man should ever be honored above all the others (to God’s glory alone, soli deo Gloria). 

But the Reformed branch (holding to one of the Reformed Confessions, such as our Westminster Confession or the Belgic Confession, etc.) saw even more than that in the Bible. Jesus has a particular way of conducting the worship of His church. Jesus has a particular way of growing Christians and making them more and more like Himself. Jesus has a particular way that He wants us to live. This is why our confession and catechisms (and other Reformed confessions) go into so much detail about the means of grace and the law of God. 

I’ll stop spoiling Dr. Willborn’s lectures now, but it is really a great instance of Christ’s merciful grace that He has kept (and even, when necessary, returned) Hopewell walking according to His truth these 200 years. And, as we thank Him and celebrate that grace, we will be simultaneously reminded of what He calls us to be and do. 

Of course, one of those things is a day that He has set apart as holy for His worship, in which He gives us a weekly celebration of Himself and reformation of ourselves, praise God! 

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

Pastor

Safe from God, Our Greatest Danger, in Christ (Family Worship, Gen 32:13–32)

Are you safe from your greatest danger? Pastor leads his family in a tomorrow’s Hopewell @Home passage. In these twenty verses, we come face to face with God and survive in Christ. If we realize that He has loved us and given Himself to be our own safety from the wrath that we deserve from Him, our greatest danger, then we will learn to depend securely upon Him in the face of any other danger.

2020.09.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 32:13–32

Read Genesis 32:13–32

Questions from the Scripture text: What did Jacob send to Esau, once he had prayed (Genesis 32:13-15)? In what manner were they to approach (Genesis 32:16)? What did he anticipate Esau asking each group (Genesis 32:17)? What were they to say (Genesis 32:18-20a)? What did Jacob hope that this would accomplish (verse 20b)? Who stayed with Jacob that night (Genesis 32:21-24a)? But what happened with him (verse 24b)? What did the Man do to Jacob (Genesis 32:25)? What did He ask Jacob to do in Genesis 32:26? What did Jacob want Him to do first? What does the Man ask in Genesis 32:27? What does the man change his name to in Genesis 32:28? What did Jacob ask in Genesis 32:29? How does the Man answer? What else does the Man do? What does Jacob conclude from this in Genesis 32:30? What does he call the place? What does he note about his life? Whom does he finally join across the river in Genesis 32:31? In what manner was he walking? By what (odd?) practice did Jacob’s descendants acknowledge this occasion (Genesis 32:32)?

How does God sometimes answer prayers for help? That’s an important question for those who constantly need His help and often ask Him for it. And the answer from this passage is that God sometimes answers prayers for help by reminding us that our greatest danger is God Himself, but our greatest help is to know our helplessness and rely entirely upon Him, even as we do whatever is right.

It’s interesting that the prayer in Genesis 32:9-12 is given in between the summary of Jacob’s plan in Genesis 32:7-8 and the details of that plan in Genesis 32:13-23. The implication is that what Jacob was asking for is that God would make his plan work. However, God’s answer is very different than what Jacob asked.

God answers by wrestling Jacob, taking away his strength (Genesis 32:24a). And by doing so all night, taking away his rest (verse 24b). And by putting his hip out of joint at the end, taking away is health/ability (Genesis 32:25). In fact, not only would Jacob hobble for the rest of his life (Genesis 32:31), but Israel would commemorate that hobbling for the rest of their existence (Genesis 32:32).

In the end, we have two renamings: one that gives Jacob the message and one that shows that he has gotten the message. Jacob’s name (“heel”-y) came from his grasping his brother’s heel, and his whole life long he has grasped what he could, however he could. His new name means “God struggles”—that our safety is not so much in what God enables us to do, but ultimately in God Himself. This is the only explanation for his surviving an altercation with God Himself (Genesis 32:30, cf. Genesis 32:25). 

And Jacob shows that he has gotten the message, when he renames the place “Peniel.” The face of Esau is nowhere near as dangerous as the face of God. So, if by God’s own power he has seen God face to face and lived, then it is by that same God’s same power that this strength-depleted, sleep-robbed, hip-hobbled weakling will survive seeing Esau’s face. 

After all, it is God alone Who blesses. The greater blesses the lesser (cf. Hebrews 7:7). We don’t even have a right to know His Name (Genesis 32:29), but He has told us anyway (cf. Genesis 32:9, Philippians 2:10), revealing and pledging Himself to us as our Savior! 

So, the next time that you need to ask God for help, remember that He sometimes answers such prayers by emptying us of all hope in ourselves for that help!

In what situation do you most need God’s help? In what ways has He reminded you that you have no hope for that help in yourself?

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


Friday, September 11, 2020

How Heart-Hearing Exposes the Genuineness of Our Salvation (Family Worship, Luke 8:4–18)

What does how you hear God’s Word read and proclaimed tell you about the state of your soul? Pastor leads his family in today’s Hopewell @Home passage. In these fifteen verses, we learn that “a good and noble heart” is one that yields to the proclamation of God’s Word—having concerns, priorities, and pleasures shaped by it—and that the last day will expose “Christians” who did not have such hearts as self-deceived and perishing.

2020.09.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 8:4–18

Read Luke 8:4–18

Questions from the Scripture text: Who had gathered in Luke 8:4? From where had they come? How did Jesus speak? Who went out to do what in Luke 8:5? Where did some fall? What two things happened to it? Where did some seed fall in Luke 8:6? What happens as soon as it springs up? Why? Where did some seed fall in Luke 8:7? What sprang up with the seed? What did the thorns do to the seed? Where did some seed fall in Luke 8:8? What did it do? What did it yield? What does Jesus cry out after saying these things? Who ask Him what in Luke 8:9? What does He say has been given to them (Luke 8:10)? But what do others hear? For what purpose? What does Jesus begin to explain in Luke 8:11? What is the seed? Who comes to the hearers who are the “wayside” soil (Luke 8:12)? What does he do? What does this prevent? How do the “rock” hearers receive the Word (Luke 8:13)? But what do they not have? What do they do (superficially) for a time? But what happens in time of testing/temptation? What three choking things keep the “thorny soil” hearers from bearing fruit (Luke 8:14)? In what way do the “good ground” hearers hear the Word (Luke 8:15)? What do they do with the Word? What do they bear? With what? What does Jesus then say that we would not do with light (Luke 8:16)? What would we do with it instead? What, ultimately, comes to light (Luke 8:17)? Therefore, to what are to take heed (Luke 8:18)? What happens to “whomever has”? What happens to whomever does not have?

We tend to think of the instruction “not to hide the light” exclusively in Matthew 5:16 terms of letting our light shine before men. But here, and in Luke 11:29–36 and Mark 4:21–25, the instruction is actually about making Scripture’s light to shine upon our own hearts. 

The command in Luke 8:18 indicates that the Lord Jesus is still teaching the same lesson as in the parable of the soils: “Take heed how you hear.”

That is the lesson of the soils: we need to be those who “hear the Word with a noble and good heart” (Luke 8:15). What is that heart? A heart that intends to keep the Word. A heart that desires to bear fruit. A heart that exercises patience in keeping the Word and bearing fruit.

But also a heart that seeks to have itself exposed by the Word (Luke 8:16, cf. Hebrews 4:12). A heart that knows that all things will be exposed eventually, and so is not afraid but rather eager to have the light of God’s Word to shine upon itself and expose it (Luke 8:16-17).

What is at stake here? A heart that has this attitude toward the Word of God is one “that has” what the Spirit has given to it, and therefore “more will be given” to it. But, the heart that resists being exposed by the Word of God is a heart that doesn’t actually have spiritual life, so even what it thinks it has will be taken away from it!

Oh, dear reader, do not hide the light of the Word from exposing your heart! Listen with a good and noble heart, to internalize the Word and be changed by it. Look for life from Christ in it, and look for it to make you more like Him who is your life!

When do you receive the Word? In each case, how can you improve how you receive it?

Suggested songs: ARP95B “Today, If You Will Hear His Voice” or TPH119W “Lord, Let My Cry before You Come”


Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Confidence That We Have in Him and His Will (1John 5:14 Prayer Devotional)

Christian prayer is an exercise of confidence in Him that increases confidence in Him, because the One to Whom we pray works all things according to the will in which He is determined to give us everything, and especially to give us Himself.

The Importance of Every Member's Doctrinal Health and Growth (Fam Worship, Eph 4:16)

Pastor leads his family in tomorrow's Hopewell @Home passage. Ephesians 4:16 teaches us that the way Christ has lovingly designed for His body—and each part of it—to grow is through each joint lovingly doing its part for one another's theological health and growth.

2020.09.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 4:16

Read Ephesians 4:16

Questions from the Scripture text: From Whom does the type of growth in Ephesians 4:16 come? How much of the body grows this way? By what is it knit and joined together? According to what kind of working? What parts have a share in this effective working? What ultimately happens when the body is grown this way? In what is it built up (edified)? 

It is from Christ that the  whole body of the church grows. Because Christ is our life, and we have no life from ourselves, there is no other way for the church to grow than the way that is described in this verse. Because Christ is our Head, our King, the type of growth described in this verse is mandatory and not optional. Because Christ has loved us, and the singular characteristic and evidence of being called according to His purpose is to love Him as He has loved us, this “building up in love” is the only true growth of the true church that there is.

That being the case, there is much work to be done in our churches to communicate the necessity of the growth and health of every single member. Can you imagine someone who has a dislocated joint—any joint at all—and saying that it was not a particularly important joint? 

But this is what happens when a member of the church wanders or wavers theologically. The love-growth of the church is interrupted. As we learned in Ephesians 4:15, “truthing” is the mechanism by which this love-growth occurs. And now to the implied question, “but which of the members need to be involved in this truthing?” Ephesians 4:16 resoundingly answers, “every single one of them!” Every joint supplies something!

To be sure, there are particular shepherding-teaching joints. We learned that in Ephesians 4:11. But that is because every single member of the church needs to be learning, affirming, and walking in the truths that are being taught by these pastor-gifts from the victorious, risen King.

Very few joints are shepherding-teaching joints, but every joint is a truthing joint. Every member has a part. There are no vestigial organs in the body of Christ. It is the will of the Head, from Whom the growth comes and into Whom the growth builds, that the theological maturation of each member (Ephesians 4:13-15a) be considered a vital part of God’s growth-plan (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:12–26, especially 1 Corinthians 12:18). None can be left out. As we can see in the last phrase of the verse, God has intended that growth pursued in this way would occur so naturally that it seems that the body is growing itself!

So, we are to have a brotherly concern for each one in all things. But, in this passage the focus is especially upon their being corrected in and growing in right doctrine. Error indeed divides and harms, but sometimes when it is being corrected, you may hear someone say, “I don’t see why we emphasize doctrine so much; doctrine divides.” It is a fleshly rejection of how Jesus defines and love and growth to be anti-doctrinal. In this verse, we see that uniting in true doctrine is actually how love builds!

How has your theology been stabilizing under the shepherds that Christ has appointed for you? What other joints in the body might need encouragement to seek this stability for the growth of the whole body?

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


Wednesday, September 9, 2020

How to Receive and Give Wisdom unto Salvation (Family Worship, Prov 9:7–12)

Do you receive rebukes wisely? Do you give them wisely? Pastor leads his family in a portion of the "Proverb of the day." In these six verses, we learn how giving and receiving rebukes gives us help in identifying whether we are on the way to eternal life and in making progress along that way.

Loving Christ Greatly, Not only as Helper but as King (Family Worship, 1Sam 16:14–23)

Pastor leads his family in tomorrow's Hopewell @Home passage. In 1Samuel 16:14–23, Saul loves David for his benefits, though he will hate and refuse to have David as king. Are you in danger of doing the same with Christ?

2020.09.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Samuel 16:14–23

 Read 1 Samuel 16:14–23

Questions from the Scripture text: Who departed from Saul in 1 Samuel 16:14? What troubled him? Who sent the distressing spirit? Who spoke to Saul in 1 Samuel 16:15? What do they say? What do they want Saul to do to them (1 Samuel 16:16)? What kind of man do they want to find? What result do they think this will have? What does Saul do in 1 Samuel 16:17? Whom does one of the servants mention in 1 Samuel 16:18? What six qualities does he mention? Which of these does he state last? Whom does Saul send to whom in 1 Samuel 16:19? What does he tell them to say? What does Jesse send, by whose hand, in 1 Samuel 16:20? What does David do in 1 Samuel 16:21? How does Saul initially respond to David? What does David become? What request does Saul send to Jesse in 1 Samuel 16:22? What reasoning does he give? What does 1 Samuel 16:23 tell us that David would do, on what occasions? What would happen to Saul? What would depart from him?

“Yahweh is with him.” Isn’t that the most important of David’s qualifications in 1 Samuel 16:18?

The passage sets us up to see this by emphasizing in 1 Samuel 16:14 how the Spirit of Yahweh departed from Saul. But, in the Lord’s providence, an evil spirit comes upon Saul (verse 14, 1 Samuel 16:151 Samuel 16:23). 

1 Samuel 16:7 is still driving what we are to “see” in this passage. The Hebrew word for the “evil” of the spirit sounds exactly (though spelled differently) like the word “see” (translated “provide”) in 1 Samuel 16:17. There is an intense focus upon “seeing” a man whose heart has Yahweh with him instead of evil.

And this is what all of us children of Adam need. To have Yahweh with our hearts by His Spirit. But how can we? The spirit that we have received, in our first father and because of him, is an evil spirit.

But David, the man/king after God’s own heart, is able here successfully to drive away and reverse the effects of the evil spirit afflicting Saul, the man/king whose heart was not after the Lord’s (1 Samuel 16:161 Samuel 16:23).

The irony is that Saul does not know what has happened in the first half of the chapter, that the man that he exactly needs in order to have the Spirit of Yahweh drive away his evil spirit is the man that is replacing him as king. Though Saul “loves him greatly” (1 Samuel 16:21) and looks upon him with favor (1 Samuel 16:22) now, that will all change, when he learns that David must be king.

There is an important parallel here for us with the ultimate David, King Jesus. There are many who want various things that Jesus can indeed give. Christ is the perfection of all of the good qualities named in 1 Samuel 16:18: knowledge, strength, victory, counsel, and beauty. And He is the ultimate “God with us” (“Immanuel”). And there are many who love the idea, and the superficial enjoyment, of many of these benefits of Jesus.

Such people sometimes think that they love Him, but when challenged with the idea that Jesus must be King, they recoil, and all is lost for them. There is nothing that we need more from Jesus than for Him to be our “last Adam,” Who gives us a new spirit, Who indwells us with His Holy Spirit, Who delivers us from all our enemies, and in Whom God is perfectly and blessedly with us.

As we read this passage, we can feel the tension of how Saul will ultimately end up rejecting and hating and opposing David. But the passage is also a mirror for us, if we can see the perfect Christ in the foreshadowing of David: are we willing to have Him as King? Or are we just interested in a collection of benefits that we hope to gain from Him?

What benefits do you need from Christ? In what do you most need to submit to Him as King?

Suggested songs: ARP45A “My Heart Is Greatly Stirred” or TPH45A “My HeartIs Greatly Stirred”


Tuesday, September 8, 2020

God Prizes the Assembling of His People (Family Worship in Psalm 87)

Pastor leads his family in tomorrow's Hopewell @Home passage. Psalm 87 shows us that God values the assembling of His people for public worship, even over-against their homes. The highest honor one can have is to have a "new birth" certificate that verifies that when he is gathered with the church, he is truly at home!

2020.09.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 87

 Read Psalm 87

Questions from the Scripture text: Where is the foundation of Yahweh’s city (Psalm 87:1)? Whose gates does He love the most (Psalm 87:2)? What kinds of things have been spoken of His city (Psalm 87:3)? From what nations will there be people who know the Lord (Psalm 87:4)? Where will it be said that this one and that one were born (Psalm 87:5)? Who will establish Zion? What will the Lord record about those who know Him from among the peoples (Psalm 87:6)? What do the priestly musicians say (Psalm 87:7)? 

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Confession of Sin come from Psalm 87 in order that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Glorious Things of The Are Spoken.

Here, we see the devotion of God to His covenant people. He loves the gates of His city—that which defines the going out and coming in, that which sets the boundaries, and that which is identified with all His people gathering for public worship. It is especially in public worship—and Psalm 87:2 says this specifically over/against in our homes—that God’s delight in His people is expressly displayed. 

It is evident that He takes pleasure in pointing to the new birth of each believer from every nation. Like a father, proudly certifying the birth of His precious child, the Lord is seen (or, better, heard) here, announcing the registration of each one whose name is written in the book of life.

Looking at the list of nations that He singles out in Psalm 87:4, it is evident that there is a particular focus upon the salvation of those from the “toughest” countries. Is anything too hard for God? He loves to give a great salvation. What an encouragement this is to us sinners, that we have a Redeemer who specializes in the hardest cases.

And what the Lord loves to celebrate, His people love to celebrate. This is not merely a private reflection for us to savor by ourselves. When the priestly musicians are enlisted to mimic the statements of God in Psalm 87:7, we see that this is a subject of praise for the public worship of the people of God.

Isn’t this the true response to God’s election? God’s choice? God’s effectual calling that gives us the new birth? To praise Him who has done it! (not to argue over whether we think it was fair of Him to save us—of course it wasn’t; it was mercy!).

In particular, let’s give our attention again to the first two lines. Who is the foundation of the city of God? Who is the gate by which alone one may enter Zion? Of course, it is Christ! And this is the answer to why the Lord is so enthusiastic about His church—because it is the church of His Son!!

How does your love for the church imitate God’s? Do you love it for the same reason? 

Do you love the display of the truth of sovereign grace?

Suggested songs: ARP87 “The Lord’s Foundation” or TPH87A “Zion, Founded on the Mountains”


Monday, September 7, 2020

From Grumbling to Gratitude and Asking for Grace (Family Worship in Gen 32:1–12)

Pastor leads his family in today's Hopewell @Home passage. In Genesis 32:1–12, God takes Jacob from grumbling to gratitude, because he sees that he is in need of grace.

Christian Privilege: Humility, Service, Sacrifice, Suffering

Christians view being humbled, and serving, and sacrificing, and suffering—like Christ and for Christ—as a great privilege

Truthing in Love from Christ, to Build One Another up into Christ (2020.09.06 Evening Sermon in Ephesians 4:15)

Over-against the harmfulness of loose teaching and living, genuine Christian love "truths" its brothers and sisters. Christ, the Source and Pattern of our love, has expressed it in "truthing" us, with the effect that to love one another is to "truth" one another: receiving the truth together, believing the truth together, speaking the truth together, and living the truth together. And the result is that we grow up into Christ together in love.

Brought by Grace to See Our Total Unworthiness and God's Abundant Goodness (2020.09.06 Morning Sermon in Genesis 32:1-12)



The Lord employs several means at once to bring Jacob to an awareness of God’s goodness and of his own unworthiness of that goodness. As those who seek to grow in awareness of the same things, we learn some of the means by which God does this for us, and find ourselves ultimately pointed to Christ

2020.09.07 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?

One of Jacob’s areas of greatest spiritual weakness is his lack of self-awareness and God-awareness: he is not very sensible of his unworthiness or of God’s abundant goodness. But in this passage, the Lord brings him to a moment of awareness, highlighting several means by which He does so. As readers who suffer from the same weakness as Jacob, this enables us to watch for, recognize, and respond to the opportunities that the Lord uses in our own lives.

The Lord brings to remembrance, and renews by new experience, Jacob’s previous great encounter with God. These angels who meet him in v1 are like those whom he first met in the vision at Bethel. He had called that place the house of God, and now he calls this the camp of God. The Lord sometimes gives us experiences of Him that draw us back to other significant moments in our walk with Him. When He does so, this calls to our attention how great His steadfast love and faithfulness have been to us in the intervening time, and how we have not been worthy of the least of it!

The Lord’s providence sets before Jacob a difficult task. In the 26 years that Jacob has been with Laban, Esau has established himself as a nation between Padan Aram and Canaan (Genesis 32:4). Jacob’s planning and initiative show the significance in his mind of the challenge of crossing through. Often, when we have a challenge in front of us, it emphasizes to us our neediness of God’s help, our unworthiness of that help, and His goodness and grace to give His help to the unworthy.

This moment is one that leads Jacob to recount the Lord’s mercies toward him in the previous season of his life. As he sends the message to Esau, he must summarize what has happened in the time since that day when he was running for his life, and that summary is a summary of marvelous grace (Genesis 32:4-5), the impression of which we see in the second half of Genesis 32:10. Seeing all of this steadfast love and faithfulness drives Jacob to conclude that he is not worthy of the least of it, and that this astonishingly generous and gracious God has an unlimited supply for the unworthy ones to which He has bound Himself. Birthdays, anniversaries, new years, funerals, Lord’s Days, and bedtime prayers are all built into the rhythms of our lives as opportunities to review just how good God has been to us, in contradiction to our unworthiness!

Soon, the challenge before Jacob turns from very difficult to downrightly dangerous. The messenger returns with the news that Esau is on his way with a force greater than grandfather Abraham’s, when he defeated the combined forces of Chedorlaomer’s multinational coalition (Genesis 32:6, cf. Genesis 14:14). Jacob’s response is to be greatly afraid and distressed (Genesis 32:7). And yet what a blessing this fear and distress are, as instruments by which the Lord brings him to the conclusion and confession in Genesis 32:10! Often, the threat of an imminent danger is a means by which the Lord snaps us out of our stupor and crystalizes for us our view of His power, His mercy, our need of it, and our unworthiness for it.

Finally, as the previous four factors work together, the Lord brings to Jacob’s mind remembrance of His Word. As Jacob asks for help, he identifies the Lord’s relationship to him as “Yahweh who said to me” (Genesis 32:9), and when he makes his plea he concludes his case by saying, “for You said” (Genesis 32:12). When we know that God is faithful to all of His promises, we do well to store up those promises in our hearts and call them to mind frequently. For, this stirs up our confidence that He will be graciously abundant in His goodness to us, over and against our unworthiness.

Indeed, we know that it is ultimately in His keeping of these promises to Jacob that He sent His Son, our Lord Jesus to be our own worthiness—so that when we are in Christ by faith, our worthiness (which is Jesus Himself) and His faithfulness agree and conspire to pour out all of the abundance of His goodness upon us!

When have you had great experience of God? What other times have ben like it or related to it? What significant challenges may lie ahead of you?  What opportunities do you have to review God’s goodness to you, and what use are you making of them? What threats of imminent danger might you be facing? What are some of your favorite promises from God’s Word? How are you increasing this store of promises? What use do you make of them and when?

Suggested songs: ARP130 “Lord, from the Depths to You I Cried” or TPH434 “A Debtor to Mercy Alone”