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)

Monday, January 18, 2021

2021.01.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 43:15–34

Read Genesis 43:15–34

Questions from the Scripture text: What three things do the men take where (Genesis 43:15)? Before whom do they stand? Whom does Joseph see (Genesis 43:16)? What does he say to do? To where do the servants bring the men (Genesis 43:17)? How do the men feel (Genesis 43:18)? Why? To what do they think the Egyptians are responding? What two things do they think the Egyptians are trying to obtain? To whom do they draw near (Genesis 43:19)? What do they explain to him (Genesis 43:20-23)? How does the steward answer in verse 23? Where does he bring them (Genesis 43:24)? What does he do to them? What does he do to their donkeys? What do they make ready for Joseph (Genesis 43:25)? In what manner do they present it to him (Genesis 43:26)? About what and whom does he ask in Genesis 43:27? What do they call their father in Genesis 43:28? What do they again do? Whom does he now see in Genesis 43:29? What does he ask? What blessing does he pronounce? Why did Joseph have to hurry (Genesis 43:30)? To do what? Where? After weeping, what did he do and say (Genesis 43:31)? Where did he sit (Genesis 43:32)? Where did they sit? Why? In what order did he seat them (Genesis 43:33)? How do they respond to that? Who takes servings to them? Whose servings are different from the others in what way (Genesis 43:34)? What do they all do?

The brothers are pathetic. Starving, needy, desperate. Their “present” (bribe, Genesis 43:15Genesis 43:25Genesis 43:26) is pathetic. All the wealth of the world is flowing into Egypt, and they hope to buy off the vizier with some pistachios and honey. They think that they are worth something as slaves (Genesis 43:18), although in the years of famine slaves are more mouths to feed, and there isn’t enough labor to keep them busy. They think that their donkeys are some kind of prize (verse 18). 

Joseph’s generosity is powerful. How great, by comparison, is the expenditure of the generosity in just a couple words from Joseph, “slaughter a slaughter and make ready, for these men will dine with me” (Genesis 43:16). It’s so great that it doesn’t even occur to the brothers as a possibility (Genesis 43:18), and they hurry to explain themselves (Genesis 43:19-22). But he gives them not only food, but refreshment for themselves and even their pathetic donkeys (Genesis 43:24). He sympathizes with them in kind inquiry about their father (Genesis 43:27-28) and blessing their little brother (Genesis 43:29). And the “bread” of Genesis 43:25Genesis 43:31 turns out to be the feast commanded in Genesis 43:16 and portioned out by Joseph himself (Genesis 43:34), with a quintuple portion for Benjamin!

Because any generosity is really God’s providence. We use the word “providence” to remember that God has all goodness in Himself, and every good thing comes ultimately from Him. This is something that the steward has apparently learned from Joseph (Genesis 43:23). God is acting according to His Person (character), power, and promises. “Your God and the God of your father has given…” (verse 23) finds the source for the money in the same place as Joseph’s stated source for grace (Genesis 43:29). And of course it is God’s grace that could work such love and humility in Joseph unto the family that had previously treated Him so badly (Genesis 43:27-34).

In being part of God’s generosity to his brothers, Joseph becomes a picture of God’s greatest generosity. Except that when Jesus finally brings us joyously to table with Himself (cf. Genesis 43:34), it will be at the cost of His own sacrificing Himself for us sinners!

What has God done for you? What does that mean God is always doing for you?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH341 “Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed”


Saturday, January 16, 2021

2021.01.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 43:15–34

Read Genesis 43:15–34

Questions from the Scripture text: What three things do the men take where (Genesis 43:15)? Before whom do they stand? Whom does Joseph see (Genesis 43:16)? What does he say to do? To where do the servants bring the men (Genesis 43:17)? How do the men feel (Genesis 43:18)? Why? To what do they think the Egyptians are responding? What two things do they think the Egyptians are trying to obtain? To whom do they draw near (Genesis 43:19)? What do they explain to him (Genesis 43:20-23)? How does the steward answer in Genesis 43:23? Where does he bring them? What does he do to them? What does he do to their donkeys? What do they make ready for Joseph (Genesis 43:25)? In what manner do they present it to him (Genesis 43:26)? About what and whom does he ask in Genesis 43:27? What do they call their father in Genesis 43:28? What do they again do? Whom does he now see in Genesis 43:29? What does he ask? What blessing does he pronounce? Why did Joseph have to hurry (Genesis 43:30)? To do what? Where? After weeping, what did he do and say (Genesis 43:31)? Where did he sit (Genesis 43:32)? Where did they sit? Why? In what order did he seat them (Genesis 43:33)? How do they respond to that? Who takes servings to them? Whose servings are different from the others in what way (Genesis 43:34)? What do they all do? 

Joseph has been a good witness in his house, perhaps. Look at his steward’s response to the brothers, as compared to their own response. “Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks.” This isn’t just comfort and assurance but thoroughly theological, even covenantally theological, comfort and assurance. 

God has made promises to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their children after them. God rules and overrules in all things, and all belongs to Him. He is the good Giver of all things, and He is always ultimately doing good to the people of promise.

The sons have all of the truth to know this, but emphasis upon these things just doesn’t seem to have been there in Jacob’s house. But Joseph’s Egyptian steward has this perspective. And he learned it from the man who in Genesis 43:29 says to Benjamin, “God be gracious to you, my son” and proceeds to pile five times as much as any of the other brothers’ onto Benjamin’s plate (Genesis 43:34).

This allows those in high position to serve and be generous to those in low position: all good comes from God’s grace! Egyptians aren’t even supposed to sit at the same table as a Hebrew (Genesis 43:32), but as soon as everyone’s seated, the vizier of Egypt leaves his seat to wait upon the abominable Hebrews. Much like our own Master says that He (!) will do for His servants (!) when He returns (cf. Luke 12:37).

Perhaps it is the humility of the vizier that helps them not to be jealous of Benjamin. Or perhaps they are just glad that they didn’t end up donkey-less slaves like their Jacob-mindedness had led them to dread (Genesis 43:18). But they are actually liberated from jealousy to eat, drink, and be merry with him (end of Genesis 43:34)!

Our covenant God is abundantly generous and good. The right interpretation of every situation for a believer always includes, “God is being good to me.” And His generosity to us ought to liberate us from jealousy so we can enjoy His being good not only to others but also to ourselves. And this is most extremely so in Christ’s own humbling Himself to do us good and even to serve us (!!) in the kingdom!

Of whom are you tempted to be jealous? How does focusing upon God’s goodness to you in Christ help with that? To whom could you be showing great generosity?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH145B “I Will Exalt You, God, My King”


Friday, January 15, 2021

2021.01.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 6:23–24

Read Ephesians 6:23–24

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle first declare toward whom in Ephesians 6:23? What else, with what? From Whom? What does he now declare in Ephesians 6:24? To whom—Whom do they love, and how? How does he conclude the letter?

The apostle closes the letter by declaring a blessing upon believers. It is a blessing upon those who give evidence of having been saved. 

The first and greatest evidence of having been saved is to love the Lord Jesus Christ with an incorruptible love. A love that came from His own loving us and therefore can never be undone.

The other evidence is that they know the Lord Jesus Christ to be God Himself Who became also a Man so that He could be the anointed Christ and save His people from their sins. By declaring that this blessedness comes conjointly from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, the apostle is confessing Jesus to be God. This is what each true recipient of this blessing believes.

And what do they receive from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ?

Peace. They are brethren and have peace with one another. As the apostle taught us in Ephesians 2:11–22 this brotherhood came about by God’s giving them peace with Himself through the blood of Christ. We have been brought near. We know His presence and His pleasure.

Love with faith. Believers not only receive the love of God shed abroad in our hearts (Ephesians 2:4–7, cf. Romans 5:8), but the faith to know this as a truth and experience is itself a gift that God gives in His love (Ephesians 2:8). Here, the apostle pronounces a blessing of both, “love with faith.”

Grace. All of God’s resources for all of our lacking. His blessing and favor to those who deserve only curse. His strength for those who have only weakness. His goodness for those who have only wickedness. By grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:8). “Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.”

When does Jesus pronounce blessings like this one upon you? What evidence has He produced in you that the blessing is for you? What are His greatest blessings to you?

Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH212 “Come Thou Almighty King”

Thursday, January 14, 2021

From Raging to Rejoicing by Submission to Christ (2021.01.13 Prayer Meeting Lesson in Psalm 2)

Kings, nations, and people rage because they are resisting Christ's unthwartable reign. But those for whom He prays and whom He subdues by His Word and power go from trembling in rage to trembling with awe as they rejoice in the sweetness of submitting to Him and belonging to Him.

2021.01.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 11:37–54

Read Luke 11:37–54

Questions from the Scripture text: Who asks Jesus to do what in Luke 11:37? What does Jesus do? At what does the Pharisee marvel (Luke 11:38)? What does Jesus say Pharisees clean (Luke 11:39a)? But with what does Jesus say the inside is filthy (verse 39b)? What does Jesus then call them (Luke 11:40)? About Whom does He now ask them? What does He give as a sample symptom of inner cleanliness (Luke 11:41)? What does He now pronounce upon the Pharisees (Luke 11:42)? What do they do? What do they pass by? Which of these ought they have done? For what second reason does He pronounce a woe upon them (Luke 11:43)? Whom does Jesus add to the third woe (Luke 11:44)? What does He say they are like? What happens to someone who touches a grave (cf. Numbers 19:16)? Who complains about what in Luke 11:45? Upon whom does Jesus respond by pronouncing a woe (Luke 11:46)? For their doing what? But not doing what? For what does he pronounce a second woe (Luke 11:47)? Of what does Jesus say the lawyers approve (Luke 11:48)? What had God’s wisdom said (Luke 11:49)? So that what would happen (Luke 11:50-51)? For what does Jesus pronounce the third woe upon the lawyers—what did they take away (Luke 11:52)? What did they not do? What did the scribes and Pharisees begin to do (Luke 11:53)? What did they then do (Luke 11:54)?

Jesus has been talking about how we respond to His Word (Luke 11:29–36), and a Pharisee invites Him over for dinner (Luke 11:37) but is astonished that Jesus doesn’t perform the intricate ritual washing that the Pharisee expected (Luke 11:38). 

The text doesn’t even record for us that the Pharisee said anything. But Jesus launches into a scathing denouncement of the Pharisees, lumping the scribes (writing-guys) into the third pronouncement of woe (Luke 11:44). The lawyers (law-guys) take offense which gets us three more woes—all six having ultimately to do with how we respond to the Lord Jesus’s Word. What six things must we watch against in relation to God’s Word?

Ignoring that the God Who spoke it sees right to the innermost parts of our hearts (Luke 11:39-41). There are really seven things to watch for, because Jesus declares this one first of all, as a reason for the six woes. When we read or hear the Bible, we are interacting personally with Him Who created all things, including us, and especially our eternal souls. To expose that they did not respond to the living God from the heart, Jesus picks the one thing that the self-righteous of His day seemed most unable to bring themselves to do (Luke 11:41, cf. Matthew 19:21, Mark 10:21, Luke 18:22). 

Selective obedience to some of the Bible but not all (Luke 11:42). Notice that they’re not criticized for caring about the minutiae. “These you ought to have done.”

Using Word/worship gatherings to satisfy desire for recognition that saturates our lives (Luke 11:43). Their priority in the synagogue was the same as in the marketplace: honor from men.

Attempting to appear better than we are, and so endangering everyone around us (Luke 11:44). Jesus lumps the scribes into this one, implying that He is still emphasizing response to the Word. The hypocrite had two faces—a real one, and the one that he put on for everyone else to see. But this makes him very dangerous. 

Stepping on a grave made you unclean for a week (cf. Numbers 29:16), so it was very important that they be well-marked. Hypocrisy does more than just lie before God and man. We are to have fellowship with one another in the light, but hypocrisy endangers those around us of missing that the hypocrite is spiritually dead and harmful.

Being noisy about what others should do, but not actually doing anything to help them (Luke 11:46). This isn’t just something that we should be doing with our actions, coming alongside one another in the various works of the six days, and in keeping the Lord’s Day together. But also, in our conversation—and for those of us in preaching and teaching offices—we need to be making much of Christ, as it is out of our union with Him by faith that the life and strength for genuine godliness comes. If there is little of Him in our talk, then we will be guilty of that unhelpfulness for which Jesus here condemns the lawyers.

Tolerance and/or cooperation with those who resist God’s Word and God’s servants (Luke 11:47-51). When we forget that these are personal attacks upon God, we go down the same path that for the generation in Luke 11 ended with their executing the Lord Jesus Himself. Jesus pointed to their love for the Scripture-twisting rabbinic tradition that went back even to those who opposed the clear and bold preaching of the prophets in the Old Testament. We need to be able to renounce, upon the Word of God, even that which has long-standing tradition.

Not only misusing God’s Word, but resisting its proper use by others (Luke 11:52). Those who do not like to emphasize the worship of God characterize godly piety as “pietism.” Those who do not like to emphasize obedience to God characterize joyous and zealous obedience as “legalism.” Such shaming caricatures hinder others from part or all of a proper knowing of God and His Word. 

And of course, those whom Jesus accused of doing these things immediately vindicated what He had said by responding not with repentance but by attacking Him for saying it (Luke 11:53-54)!

Of these seven, which might you more need to watch against? Why? How will you?

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH172 “Speak, O Lord”


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

2021.01.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 1:1–16

Read 2 Samuel 1:1–16

Questions from the Scripture text: What are the time and location of this passage (2 Samuel 1:1)? What is the contrast between what Saul has just done and what David has just done? Who arrives, when, and in what apparent condition (2 Samuel 1:2)? What does he do? What is David’s first question (2 Samuel 1:3)? On whose side does the man claim to have been, and where? What is David’s second question (2 Samuel 1:4)? What does he report (as a subtle explanation for why he isn’t still there and then also why it was so urgent to find David)? What is the first part of the story that David cross-examines (2 Samuel 1:5)? How does the man explain his peculiar location to see what he saw (2 Samuel 1:6)? What does he claim to have seen? Who does he claim saw him (2 Samuel 1:7)? What does he claim that Saul asked him to do (2 Samuel 1:8-9)? But what does he give as his reasoning for delivering the death blow (2 Samuel 1:10)? What had he plundered, and what purpose does he imply for that? What is David’s first/immediate response (2 Samuel 1:11)? Who join him in this? What do they proceed to do until when (2 Samuel 1:12)? For which four specific entities? Now what does David ask (2 Samuel 1:13)? What does the man call the Amalekites? What, then, is David surprised about (2 Samuel 1:14)? Who has previously indeed been afraid to do that very thing (cf. 1 Samuel 26:9)? What does David now command (2 Samuel 1:15)? What reasoning does David give for the swiftness of the judgment and execution (2 Samuel 1:16)?

The Amalekite messenger thought he would not be mourning (2 Samuel 1:2), but that David would be happy to receive at last the kingship and its symbols (2 Samuel 1:10). He didn’t understand David. He didn’t understand a man whose depth of care for God’s anointed and God’s covenant people (2 Samuel 1:12) was a higher priority than either adjudicating a capital crime (2 Samuel 1:15-16) or his own personal ascent to the throne.

It must have been nerve-wracking for the Amalekite to witness the depth of their grief in 2 Samuel 1:11-12, wondering whether his ruse was going to work.  He had just enough of the details of Saul’s death. He knew enough of how to talk about things that David cross-examined him on his background in 2 Samuel 1:13, with the response that this Amalekite had grown up as an immigrant among the Israelites.

But what he didn’t know was to honor Yahweh. To know “the house of Israel” as Yahweh’s covenant people (2 Samuel 1:12b). To know Saul not merely as a rogue and rejected magistrate, but as the anointed of Yahweh. And this is what astonishes David: “how was it that you were not afraid to put forth your hand to destroy Yahweh’s anointed?”

The Amalekite had actually massaged the story a bit to get credit for the mercy-kill, to get credit for bringing the news, and to get credit for delivering the crown-goods. It didn’t cross his mind that his massaged message was self-incriminating of the highest possible crime! He just didn’t understand the difference it makes when Yahweh and His covenant are of the highest importance.

David understood those things, and that was why he himself did fear to put forth his hand against Yahweh’s anointed (cf. 1 Samuel 24:6, 1 Samuel 26:9). Do we understand it, dear reader? Are the things of Yahweh of the highest importance to us? Is the worship of God and the honor of His name more to us than all the prosperity issues and politics issues with which fleshly minds are consumed? Are first-table commandment issues of a higher order to us than second-table?

What personal issues in your life threaten to be more important to you than whether God’s people are under His discipline, or His Name is being dishonored among them?

Suggested songs: ARP137 “By Babylon’s Rivers” or TPH137 “By Flowing Streams in Babylon”


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

2021.01.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Corinthians 1:26–31

Read 1 Corinthians 1:26–31

Questions from the Scripture text: How many wise according to the flesh are called (1 Corinthians 1:26)? How many mighty are called? How many noble are called? Why has God chosen the foolish things of the world (1 Corinthians 1:27)? Why has God chosen the weak things of the world? Why has God chosen the base things of the world, and the things are despised, and the things which are not (1 Corinthians 1:28)? What does God want no flesh to do in His presence (1 Corinthians 1:29)? How did we come to be in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:30)? What four things is Christ Jesus for us? In what (whom!) should we glory, instead of ourselves (1 Corinthians 1:31)? 

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from 1 Corinthians 1:26–31, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Not What My Hands Have Done.

In this passage, God lowers our self-esteem. He reminds us that the world considers us foolish. He reminds us that, humanly speaking, we are weak. We are unimpressive, and of little earthly account.

The sooner that we just admit this about ourselves, the sooner we can get to the (literally) glorious reason for this: so that our only glory will be the Lord Himself! At the end of the day, the more we try to retain some wisdom, strength, goodness, or any other quality worthy of admiring, the less we will admire the Lord alone.

Sadly, many of us have not gotten this message. As individuals, we think that we will be so impressive to our unbelieving friends that they will just want to become Christians on the spot after they meet us! We harbor secret suspicions that if our fellow church members would just be a little more impressive, we’d be able to get more people to stick. Or even worse, we build up an entire array of programs and strategies for looking impressive, and think that it’s actually a good thing when people come and stay for them!

If only we would, more often, take out the 1 Corinthians 1:26–31 mirror and take a good long look and say, “the only thing genuinely impressive about me is Jesus.” If only we would, more often, take out the 1 Corinthians 1:26–31 mirror and take a good long look and say, “the only thing genuinely impressive about our congregation is Jesus—and He is the only thing that can ever be genuinely impressive about us.”

Is Jesus’s glory so small that we think we can add to it, or feel that it needs adding to? Do we think that we do anyone a favor by displaying ourselves, when they could have Christ displayed to them instead? Would it be healthy if they were drawn to us, when they would not have been drawn to Christ?

Here is God, the eternal Son, who has become a man; and, as a man, He has become for us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption! Glory!!! Surely, if one is not moved by this, it matters little if we can get him to think that we are warm, welcoming, and have much to offer him!

May the Lord save us from ourselves and our self-esteem… so that we may have eyes fully open to the glory of Christ, and rejoice in His glory among us!

About what are you tempted to be impressed with yourself or your church? How does this passage remind you to think about it instead? What are you hoping will draw people to Christ? If that is your hope, then how will you go about evangelizing them?

Suggested songs: ARP189 “Universal Praise” or TPH435 “Not What My Hands Have Done”


Monday, January 11, 2021

Sanctification, part 2 (2021.01.10 Sabbath School)

They who are once effectually called and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ's death and resurrection, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them: the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified; and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

The Power of Believers' Ordinary Faithfulness and Brotherly Love (2021.01.10 Evening Sermon in Ephesians 6:21–22)

God is often pleased to do extraordinary things through Christians' ordinary faithfulness and brotherly love.

The God Who Sometimes Bereaves Us in Almighty Mercy (2021.01.10 Morning Sermon in Genesis 42:29–43:14)



When God's providence hurts, our thoughts must be controlled not by the pain but by His precepts and promises.

2021.01.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 42:29–43:14

Read Genesis 42:29–43:14

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom do the brothers go in Genesis 42:29? Where? What do they tell him? About Joseph (Genesis 42:30)? About what they said (Genesis 42:31-32)? About what Joseph did and said (Genesis 42:33-34)? Now what do they discover in Genesis 42:35? Who sees it with them? How do they all feel about it? What does Jacob say they have done (Genesis 42:36)? What does he say are against him? What does he refuse? What proposal does Reuben make in Genesis 42:37)? Does Jacob accept the offer (Genesis 42:38)? What does he say about Joseph? What does he say about Benjamin? What does he say might happen to Benjamin, and what does he say this would do to himself? What does this imply about the comparative value of the ten other brothers? What was severe in Canaan (Genesis 43:1)? What had they done in Genesis 43:2? Who spoke to them? What did he say? Who spoke to their father in Genesis 43:3? Of what does he remind him? On what condition will they go buy food (Genesis 43:4)? Why won’t they go if this condition is not met (Genesis 43:5)? What does Genesis 43:6 call Jacob? How is this ironic with how he is thinking/acting? Whom does he accuse of doing what to him? By saying what to whom? What explanation do they give for how they came to divulge the information (Genesis 43:7)? What do they say was impossible to know? Again who speaks in Genesis 43:8? What does he request Israel to do? What does he offer as a surety in Genesis 43:9 (cf. Genesis 42:37)? What does he propose to happen if he does not bring Benjamin back? What does he say could have been the situation on what condition (Genesis 43:10)? What does Israel tell them to take in Genesis 43:11? As what? And what in Genesis 43:12? Why? And whom (Genesis 43:13)? Whom does he finally mention in Genesis 43:14? What does he pray might be given them, seemingly implying that it has not been given thus far? What would be the evidence that He has given them mercy? What does Israel imply would not be merciful (in a way that suggests that this would be the current status quo?!)?

What dreadful effects an attitude of grumbling and self-pity can have upon ourselves and those around us!

It trains ourselves and others to fear God’s good providence instead of being thankful. “They [including their father] were afraid” in Genesis 42:35. Why? It’s a repeated, and increased, instance of the “what is this that God has done to us?” from Genesis 42:28. Rather than rejoice over God’s goodness to them, they mistrust His intentions. This is the result of having responded with murmuring to God’s previous mercy and goodness.

It gives us a blaming and accusing mindset. If the self-focus of our ingratitude is willing to mistrust God, it will not stop with Him! The sons have just finished telling Jacob that it was almost just one of them that returned, and he immediately accuses them of bereaving him of Joseph (little did he know; maybe he suspected?), Simeon (who obviously was not their fault, as they try to plead in Genesis 43:7), and Benjamin (prospectively, who isn’t yet gone and never will be!).

It makes us value God and others less. It’s hard to love and appreciate the family around you, when you’re focused on what you wish you had but don’t. 

“My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is left alone” (Genesis 42:38).  His ungrateful heart can’t even hear himself telling them that they have no value to him as sons or to Benjamin as a brother.

“If any calamity should befall him [who cares about you!] along the way in which you go, then you would bring down my gray hair with sorrow to the grave.” Nothing but Benjamin can move the needle on his contentment and joy. Not even God Himself.

Things were so bad that it actually occurred to Reuben that though Jacob might not enjoy the fellowship of his other sons, he might take some comfort from vengeance upon his grandsons (!, Genesis 42:37).

It makes us irresponsible. Apparently, Jacob was going to try to send them without Benjamin (Genesis 43:3-7). And, Jacob had ignored the problem, allowing them to run out of grain (Genesis 43:1) rather than keeping the supply uninterrupted by accounting for the time the trip would take (Genesis 43:10). Now they’re down to delicacies that would have been for special occasions and are needed for Israel’s bribe plan (Genesis 43:11). 

It puts us in danger of taking God’s Name in vain. We finally hear Jacob refer to God in Genesis 43:14. “May God Almighty give you mercy.” But, the real condition of his heart is revealed in slightly devaluing Simeon when he says “your other brother and Benjamin.” And it is especially exposed by his, “If I am bereaved, I am bereaved!” It’s a very fatalistic way of talking, not really consistent with confessing a God of might and of mercy!

Instead, we need to see God’s might and mercy behind even our bereavements. At the end of the day, we are sinners who have been granted the opportunity to know God as Savior through His promise and blood. When we see what God has committed Himself to and done for us in Christ, we are prepared to be grateful super-conquerors in any circumstance whatsoever! 

What has God done for you? What does that mean God is always doing for you?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH341 “Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed”


Saturday, January 9, 2021

2021.01.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 42:29–43:14

Read Genesis 42:29–43:14

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom do the brothers go in Genesis 42:29? Where? What do they tell him? About Joseph (Genesis 42:30)? About what they said (Genesis 42:31-32)? About what Joseph did and said (Genesis 42:33-34)? Now what do they discover in Genesis 42:35? Who sees it with them? How do they all feel about it? What does Jacob say they have done (Genesis 42:36)? What does he say are against him? What does he refuse? What proposal does Reuben make in Genesis 42:37)? Does Jacob accept the offer (Genesis 42:38)? What does he say about Joseph? What does he say about Benjamin? What does he say might happen to Benjamin, and what does he say this would do to himself? What does this imply about the comparative value of the ten other brothers? What was severe in Canaan (Genesis 43:1)? What had they done in Genesis 43:2? Who spoke to them? What did he say? Who spoke to their father in Genesis 43:3? Of what does he remind him? On what condition will they go buy food (Genesis 43:4)? Why won’t they go if this condition is not met (Genesis 43:5)? What does Genesis 43:6 call Jacob? How is this ironic with how he is thinking/acting? Whom does he accuse of doing what to him? By saying what to whom? What explanation do they give for how they came to divulge the information (Genesis 43:7)? What do they say was impossible to know? Again who speaks in Genesis 43:8? What does he request Israel to do? What does he offer as a surety in Genesis 43:9 (cf. Genesis 42:37)? What does he propose to happen if he does not bring Benjamin back? What does he say could have been the situation on what condition (Genesis 43:10)? What does Israel tell them to take in Genesis 43:11? As what? And what in Genesis 43:12? Why? And whom (Genesis 43:13)? Whom does he finally mention in Genesis 43:14? What does he pray might be given them, seemingly implying that it has not been given thus far? What would be the evidence that He has given them mercy? What does Israel imply would not be merciful (in a way that suggests that this would be the current status quo?!)?

“Jacob their father” (Genesis 42:29) should have been “their father Israel” (Genesis 43:11). Rather than “heel grabber” as he had begun, he should have been “God wrestles” as he would ultimately end.

But, he was still very much acting like a Jacob. After hearing their story (Genesis 42:29–34), and seeing that it was not just one frightful sack of money but ten (Genesis 42:35, cf. Genesis 42:28), Jacob whines about what they have done to him. And not just them, but “all these things are against me” (Genesis 42:36)! 

He is thinking only of himself. What kind of father must he have been that Reuben would think that the deaths of his two sons—Jacob’s own grandchildren—would somehow placate him. 

Jacob certainly seems willing enough to sacrifice any chance at regaining Simeon in order to take no chance at all of losing Benjamin. He tells the nine before him that all of them together are literally nothing to Benjamin without Joseph (“he is left alone,” Genesis 42:38a). And they would be of zero value for the comfort of Jacob, verse 38b). 

When the food is completely used up, Jacob still doesn’t seem to care about Simeon—or even about Benjamin by comparison to his devotion to himself(!): “”why did you deal so evilly with me as to tell the man that you had still another brother?” (Genesis 43:6). 

Judah, by comparison, puts not his children but himself on the line in Genesis 43:8-9. Jacob realizes that not just Benjamin, but all of them will die, if they have no food. So, he comes up with all of the plans and schemes possible, still living by his wits. Only at the end of the passage, does he finally seem to give any thought at all to God, or His power (“God almighty”) or His mercy (Genesis 43:14). 

And it is at this point that we put it all together. “If I am bereaved, I am bereaved” he whines, and we realize how impersonally he has been viewing providence. But providence is personal! In all of this whining and grumbling and self-pity and accusation, Jacob has been revealing a heart that little values or acknowledges the wisdom and goodness of God.

What a wicked thing is whining, grumbling, self-pity, and an accusing spirit! Not so much for what it does to those around us, though that indeed is harmful. But for how it treats our almighty, merciful God! May He preserve us not so much from difficult circumstances but from indulging such wicked sentiments!

About what are you tempted to grumbling or self-pity? How is God acting toward you in it?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH231 “Whate’er My God Ordains Is Right”


Friday, January 8, 2021

2021.01.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 6:21–22

Read Ephesians 6:21–22

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle want them to know (Ephesians 6:21)? Whom is he sending for this purpose? What two things does the apostle call him? What (of those things that the apostle wanted them to know) will Tychicus tell them? What two purposes does the apostle state or this sending in Ephesians 6:22? 

The Ephesian church and Paul were precious to one another. He had pastored there for almost three years (Acts 19:1–10), and their tearful goodbye is one of the most moving scenes in the Bible (Acts 20:17–38). He loved them with a similar love to that which he had Titus, about whom his heart was troubled until he knew how things were with him (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:13).

So, Paul loved them as himself and wanted to keep them from the same distress that he had for Titus. And, thank God for His providence in this, because the purpose of sending Tychicus with this glorious letter was that the Ephesians might know how things are with their beloved apostle (Ephesians 6:21). Tychicus would tell them everything so that they would know what’s going on with Paul, and this would comfort their hearts (Ephesians 6:22).

What an amazing letter we have as a result!

I wonder if our affection for one another in Christ is so great that we would be deeply distressed by not knowing how each other are doing. And if we know that God’s eternal plan and current work will be all the more encouraging to one another, so that in our “ordinary” communications we are eager to remind one another of the extraordinary gospel.

Tychicus was such a friend. He was known as a “beloved brother and faithful servant.” He carried not only this letter, but also that to Colossae (Colossians 4:7), from Laodicea (Colossians 4:16, possibly referring to Ephesians), and probably the letter about Onesimus to Philemon (cf. Colossians 4:9). He may even have carried 2 Timothy to Ephesus (cf. 2 Timothy 4:12). 

What a blessing such men are—beloved among the churches, and faithful and reliable for the most needful works of service. Presumably, he too wished to know how the Ephesians were, and wished to alleviate them of any anxiety about how Paul was doing. Such love ought to characterize those who have been reconciled to one another and joined to one another, in Christ Who has reconciled us to God!

How does your love for believers reflect some of the cares/priorities reflected here?

Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” 


Thursday, January 7, 2021

Christ, the Blessed Man for Us, to Us, and in Us (210106 Prayer Meeting Lesson in Psalm 1)

Christ for us is our worthiness for blessedness. Christ unto us is our counsel and companionship unto blessedness. Christ within us is our life for the fruitfulness of blessedness.

2020.01.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 11:29–36

Read Luke 11:29–36

Questions from the Scripture text: What kind of crowd is there in Luke 11:29? What does Jesus call their generation? Why? What sign does he say will be given? To whom was Jonah a sign (Luke 11:30)? Who will be a similar sign to His generation? Who will rise with that generation at the judgment (Luke 11:31)? What will she do then? What had she done in her time? To hear whom? But Whom are that generation not hearing? Who else will rise up with this generation at the judgment (Luke 11:32)? And do what? At what did they repent? At Whose preaching is that generation not repenting? What does no one do to a lit lamp (Luke 11:33)? Why? What does Jesus call “the lamp of the body” in Luke 11:34? What is true “when your eye is good”? What is true “when your eye is bad”? Unto what are we to take heed (Luke 11:35)? How does Luke 11:36 summarize/reiterate this point?

The last time we heard the illustration of the unhidden lamp was in Luke 8:4–18 and the lesson that we must take heed how we listen to the Scripture. Here in these eight verses, we have the same lesson, with the warning of the exceedingly deep darkness into which they plunge who refuse to submit to Christ’s Word as light (Luke 11:33-36).

Truly, the resurrection of Jonah must have been a great sign unto the Ninevites and instrumentally used of God in bringing them to repentance. But the New Testament is an even greater marvel. It comes from the pens of apostles of a Man (a GOD-Man!) who was in the belly of the earth for three days and nights (Luke 11:29, cf. Matthew 12:39–41)… and is now seated on the throne of Heaven, from whence He has poured out His Holy Spirit. 

So, let us heed the warning here. For if Nineveh and the queen of the South, by their heeding the wisdom of lessers, would condemn Christ’s generation for failing to listen to Him… then, if we do not listen to His preaching of His own Scriptures by His Spirit using His servants to proclaim what was written by His apostles… will not Nineveh and the queen of the South also condemn us at the judgment?

We must accept the Bible’s truth. We must have our thoughts corrected and reshaped by it. We must have our affections judged by it and accordingly rejected or stirred up. We must have our decisions, desires, and motivations determined by it. We must love it, treasure it, feed upon it, and delight in it. It is the very words of our Redeemer King! And there is none great as He.

It is through this type of hearing His Word that He has appointed it to be a lamp unto our feet and light to our path, granting light to your whole being (Luke 11:33Luke 11:36, cf. Psalm 19:8; Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 6:23; 2 Peter 1:19). 

Oh, dear Christian, when you read your Bible, when you have family worship, and especially when you hear the Word faithfully preached in the holy assembly on the Lord’s Day, take heed how you hear! Take heed how you hear!

When do you receive Christ’s Word? What are you doing with it? How can you improve?

Suggested songs: ARP119N “Your Word’s a Lamp” or TPH119N “Your Word Sheds Light upon My Path”

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

2020.01.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Samuel 31

Read 1 Samuel 31

Questions from the Scripture text: What is happening as David and his men split the spoil from the Amalekites (1 Samuel 31:1)? What happens to the men of Israel in this fight? Where? After whom do the Philistines follow hard in 1 Samuel 31:2a? Whom do they kill (verse 2b)? Against whom does the battle then become fierce (1 Samuel 31:3)? Who hit (lit. “find”) him? With what effect? What does Saul ask his armorbearer to do (1 Samuel 31:4)? Why? Why wouldn’t he? What did Saul do instead? What does the armorbearer see in 1 Samuel 31:5? What does he do? What was the cumulative effect of all of this (1 Samuel 31:6)? What men were where in 1 Samuel 31:7? What did they see? What did they do? Who came and did what? What are Philistines doing the next day (1 Samuel 31:8)? What do they find? What do they do to Saul (1 Samuel 31:9)? To whom do they send word? Where do they proclaim it? Where do they put his armor (1 Samuel 31:10)? His body? Who hear about this in 1 Samuel 31:11 (cf.1 Samuel 11:1–11)? Who arise (1 Samuel 31:12)? How long do they travel? What do they take from where? What do they do with the desecrated bodies? But what do they do with their bones (1 Samuel 31:13)? And then what do they do?

God’s Word is always true, but His people often aren’t.  

We’ve been kept waiting for two chapters to find out how Samuel’s words from 1 Samuel 28:19 to resolve. And resolve they do, to the great grief of Israel. 

Jonathan and brothers die in 1 Samuel 31:2. Saul kills himself in 1 Samuel 31:4. The armorbearer kills himself in 1 Samuel 31:5. All his men die in 1 Samuel 31:6. An entire region of Israelites abandon their homes and are displaced by Philistines in 1 Samuel 31:7.

But there is comfort in this grief, precisely because it is exactly as God has said. The reliability of His precious and faithful Word is upheld. And the fact of His good and wise purposes in the most grievous of circumstances is repeated.

Dreadfully, however, 1 Samuel 31:9-10 hearken back to 1 Samuel 5, in which Yahweh and the ark humiliated the Philistines and their gods, Dagon in particular. Now, the necessary judgment upon Saul has come at the cost of shame being cast upon Israel and (much worse) Israel’s God. If 1 Samuel 4 ends in Ichabod (the glory has departed), this is even more grievous: the glory has been humiliated.

Let us take comfort in the reliability of God’s Word and the reality of God’s purposes, but let us never take them as excuses for our own unfaithfulness—lest we become occasions for bringing shame uon the church and (much worse) the church’s God!

Instead, trusting ourselves to Him, let us be like onetime weak men of Jabesh Gilead (1 Samuel 31:11, cf. 1 Samuel 11:1–11). They had once depended upon the rest of Israel to come to their aid, but now with the rest of Israel dead, defeated, or running, the men of Jabesh Gilead go alone to salvage what they can of the dignity of Israel’s king and princes (1 Samuel 31:12-13). The mutilated flesh is even disposed of so that the bones may be buried in anticipation of the resurrection. 

It seems like little; but, trusting the whole to the Lord, it was what they could do. So on the one hand, seek that you do not become an occasion for shame. But rather, do what you can for the honor of the church and her King, however little it may be. You can count upon the reliability of His Word and reality of His purposes.

To what shame-bringing sin are you tempted? For what righteousness and service do you have opportunity—and why might this require courage? Where will you get it?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Strength” or TPH539 “Am I a Soldier of the Cross”


Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Our Faltering Love Perfected by His Faithful Love (Family Worship in Romans 8:28–39)

What hope can believers have, when they see that their love for God and obedience to His calling are so poor? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these twelve verses, we learn that our hope is as sure as the character, plan, and work of God Himself—now having been secured by our Redeemer, the God-Man, Who sits on the throne of glory!

2021.01.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 8:28–39

Read Romans 8:28–39

Questions from the Scripture text: Which things do we know work together for good (Romans 8:28)? To whom do they work together for good? What did God also do to those whom He foreknew (Romans 8:29a)? To what did He predestine them (verse 29b)? For what reason (verse 29c)? What did He do for those whom He predestined (Romans 8:30a)? What did He do for those whom He called (verse 30b)? What did he do for those whom He justified (verse 30c)? Who is for us (Romans 8:31)? Who can (successfully) be against us? What (Whom!) did God not spare (Romans 8:32a)? What did God do with His Son for us? What will God give to us together with Him? What does God do instead of bringing a charge against His elect (Romans 8:33)? What does Jesus do, instead of condemning us (Romans 8:34)? What are some of the things that are not able to separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35Romans 8:38-39)? What is one of the reasons that such things happen (Romans 8:36)? So, what is going on in the midst of these things (Romans 8:37)? 

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Romans 8:28–39, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with A Debtor to Mercy Alone.

All things must work together for our good. Nothing can separate us from God’s love. These are truths that make hearts swell up with joy and praise.

And we see here what marvelously sure truths they are.

God’s love is sure, because it goes back before time. God “foreknowing” His elect is not some form of divine cheating by sneaking a peek at the end. It’s talking about knowing in terms of a relationship: He loved us before the world began (cf. Ephesians 1:3-6). It was this love, that He simply decided to set upon us, that led to our being predestined. A love that is from eternity cannot be undone by anything that occurs in time.

God’s love is sure, because it is in Christ and for His sake. God loves the glory of His Son, and He has determined that for the Son’s great glory, He would be displayed as the firstborn of many brothers and sisters who have been shaped to look like Him. We’re predestined to bring Christ glory!

God’s love is sure, because His law now demands that it continue. We have been justified with Christ’s righteousness. The One who makes the charges at the judgment is the One who has justified us (Romans 8:33). The One who condemns at the judgment is the One who has taken our condemnation and is continually pleading our case (Romans 8:34).

God’s love is sure, because its most infinite gift has already been given, and it is irrational to think that anything else could possibly be held back (Romans 8:32).

There are many things that come into our lives that threaten to shake our joy in God’s love. But, when we consider them in the light of the teaching in these verses, that threat quickly dissolves.

We realize, instead, that even if we are like sheep being slaughtered, it is for His sake. It is because we are joined to Him in that love from which we can never be separated. It is most certain that this love will prevail with us, and that we will prevail in the trial. Even before the trial ends, we can know already that we are more than conquerors!

Election and predestination are not dry, dusty doctrines for theological fuddy-duddies. They are the foundation of sure, victorious love!

In what current circumstance do you most need to cling to the cross and God’s electing love?

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


Monday, January 4, 2021

Minds Protected by the Spirit through Scripture and Prayer (2021.01.03 Evening Sermon in Ephesians 6:17–20)

Our minds are vital, and the Spirit protects them by meditation upon God's Word of salvation, which we constantly turn over in prayer before Him.

Sanctification, part 1 (2021.01.03 Sabbath School in WCF 13)

This was the first class in WCF 13, "On Sanctification"

What Is This God Has Done to Us?—When Providence Provokes Repentance (2021.01.03 Morning Sermon in Genesis 42:8–28)



Often, one of God's loving and wise purposes in difficult providences is to provoke us to renewed repentance

2021.01.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 42:8–38

 Read Genesis 42:8–38

Questions from the Scripture text: Who recognized whom (Genesis 42:8)? Who did not recognize whom? What did Joseph remember (Genesis 42:9)? Of what did he accuse them? What did they call Joseph (Genesis 42:10)? Themselves? Why did they claim to have come? What do they claim proves them honest and not spies (Genesis 42:11)? How does Joseph answer (Genesis 42:12)? What new data do they add in Genesis 42:13 to the claim in verse 11? How does Joseph answer (Genesis 42:14)? By whose life does he speak in Genesis 42:15Genesis 42:16? How does he propose to test them? How many may leave (verse 16)? What will happen to the rest? How long did Joseph put them there (Genesis 42:17, cf. Genesis 40:12–13, Genesis 40:18–19)? What did Joseph claim about himself in Genesis 42:18? How many does he now propose to keep in prison (Genesis 42:19)? What are the rest to do for whom? Whom are they to bring (Genesis 42:20)? Why? What do they now say about themselves in Genesis 42:21? What had they seen? What did they refuse to do? What do they think this has caused? Who answers them in Genesis 42:22? What does he say that he and they had done? What does he say is now happening to them? What didn’t they know (Genesis 42:23)? How does Joseph respond in Genesis 42:24? Whom does he take? What does he do? Before what? What does Joseph command (Genesis 42:25a)? What unexpected additions does he make (verse 25b)? What do they do in Genesis 42:26? To where do they arrive in Genesis 42:27? What does one of them do? What does he see? Whom does he tell (Genesis 42:28)? What happens to their hearts? What do they ask? 

We would be wrong to read Joseph’s actions here in colors of pride or vengeance. If he were acting in pride, he could have rubbed their faces into the dirt—at the moment that their faces were already, literally in the dirt. If he were acting in vengeance, he could have had them executed or tortured, and sent a delegation with food back to his father and brother in Canaan.

But, Joseph acts to preserve not only their lives (Genesis 42:25a, as he does for the Egyptian people) but also their wealth (verse 25b, which he takes away from the Egyptian people!). And he does so in a way that is designed to bring them to repentance, as he gets to hear them say, “We are truly guilty concerning our brother… therefore this distress has come upon us” (Genesis 42:21), and we get to hear them say, “What is this that God has done to us?” (Genesis 42:28).

Indeed, in that latter statement, there is an implied, intuited idea that God acts with purpose and justice in bringing us under judgment—perhaps even the idea that God’s purpose in affliction is sometimes in wisdom to bring us to repentance.

Like Nathan with David (cf. 2 Samuel 12), Joseph here is imitating the wisdom and patience and love of God (cf. e.g., Hosea 5) as he employs his resources to help his brothers come to repentance. And we are right to be impressed by how wisely and well he pulls it off.

But if this one instance of love and wisdom over against pride and vengeance is so impressive, how much more is the love and wisdom and mercy and stooping down of our God unto us, as He brings us unto repentance instead of destroying us!

Well might He have rubbed our noses in the dirt from which we came. Well might He have exercised all of the glory of His being in meting out destruction upon us (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:8–9). But instead, He has become a man and humbled Himself to death on the cross, and works in each of His elect’s life by His providence, Word, and Spirit to bring us to repentance!

We don’t always have authority and position from which to work in the best interests, temporal and spiritual, of those whom we love. But we ought always desire it, always pray for it, and always do what is appropriate for it from the position in which God has placed us. 

Even as we imitate Him who has done so almightily, all-mercifully, all-wisely for us!

Whom do you know who needs to repent and believe? What place and opportunity has God given you to help them? What else can you do, and must you do, for them?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH341 “Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed”


Saturday, January 2, 2021

2021.01.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 42:8–38

Read Genesis 42:8–38

Questions from the Scripture text: Who recognized whom (Genesis 42:8)? Who did not recognize whom? What did Joseph remember (Genesis 42:9)? Of what did he accuse them? What did they call Joseph (Genesis 42:10)? Themselves? Why did they claim to have come? What do they claim proves them honest and not spies (Genesis 42:11)? How does Joseph answer (Genesis 42:12)? What new data do they add in Genesis 42:13 to the claim in verse 11? How does Joseph answer (Genesis 42:14)? By whose life does he speak in Genesis 42:15Genesis 42:16? How does he propose to test them? How many may leave (verse 16)? What will happen to the rest? How long did Joseph put them there (Genesis 42:17, cf. Genesis 40:12–13, Genesis 40:18–19)? What did Joseph claim about himself in Genesis 42:18? How many does he now propose to keep in prison (Genesis 42:19)? What are the rest to do for whom? Whom are they to bring (Genesis 42:20)? Why? What do they now say about themselves in Genesis 42:21? What had they seen? What did they refuse to do? What do they think this has caused? Who answers them in Genesis 42:22? What does he say that he and they had done? What does he say is now happening to them? What didn’t they know (Genesis 42:23)? How does Joseph respond in Genesis 42:24? Whom does he take? What does he do? Before what? What does Joseph command (Genesis 42:25a)? What unexpected additions does he make (verse 25b)? What do they do in Genesis 42:26? To where do they arrive in Genesis 42:27? What does one of them do? What does he see? Whom does he tell (Genesis 42:28)? What happens to their hearts? What do they ask? To whom do they go in Genesis 42:29? Where? What do they tell him? About Joseph (Genesis 42:30)? About what they said (Genesis 42:31-32)? About what Joseph did and said (Genesis 42:33-34)? Now what do they discover in Genesis 42:35? Who sees it with them? How do they all feel about it? What does Jacob say they have done (Genesis 42:36)? What does he say are against him? What does he refuse? What proposal does Reuben make in Genesis 42:37)? Does Jacob accept the offer (Genesis 42:38)? What does he say about Joseph? What does he say about Benjamin? What does he say might happen to Benjamin, and what does he say this would do to himself? What does this imply about the comparative value of the ten other brothers?

Sometimes the Lord uses situations to bring to our attention our need to repent of something about which we have not lately felt guilty. Joseph seems to know this instinctively. He remembers not just one dream but two (Genesis 42:9), so he fully expects a return visit, and he is obviously trying to provoke them.

In verse 9b, Genesis 42:12Genesis 42:14 he repeats the same accusation as an explanation for the number of similarly dressed/looking/sounding men in front of him. Of course he knows exactly why (Genesis 42:8), and it is the very thing they claim in Genesis 42:11Genesis 42:13

For his part, Joseph has been in prison and knows the effect that it can have in giving a man time to think upon God’s doings in his life and his interaction with God. The three days (Genesis 42:17) call us back to chapter 40, where the dreams of Pharaoh’s servants had led Joseph to believe that this was the precise amount of time left for him there.

And three days (not years and years before, and then two more years after) is all it ends up taking to bring out of them the confession in Genesis 42:21. They feel guiltier now than they have for some 20 years: “we are truly guilty concerning our brother.” There is some sense that they are receiving justice: “therefore this distress has come upon us.”

So Joseph continues to provoke them. Now, he not only reminds/reinforces to them that they are all brothers, and not only gives them time to think about their guiltiness before God, but he also presses to them their undeservingness of all God’s goodness to them. Not only does he return their money to them, in addition to the grain, but he adds extra provisions for the journey for which they had not bargained (Genesis 42:25).

Instructively, the thought that God was ultimately responsible for this was no comfort to them—the opposite, in fact (Genesis 42:28)! When you are aware of your wicked guilt before God, it is no encouragement to think that He is actively engaged in your life! This seems to be a mindset they have picked up from their father, who literally thinks everything is against him (Genesis 42:36). 

It has a harmful formative effect to live with grumbling against God’s providence, and Jacob’s pity party has been going for a full twenty years. One wonders how different “bring down my gray hair with sorrow to the grave” (Genesis 42:38) would be from what they have endured from him for these decades. He basically tells them that they are nothing to Benjamin (“his brother is dead, and he is left alone”), and that they are nothing to him (since if they lived, it would be no comfort to him). He doesn’t even express any interest in retrieving Simeon, who is an acceptable loss if it means not risking Benjamin.

What Joseph has done to the brothers, humanly speaking, God is doing to Jacob: bringing his sin to the surface for us to see it in all its ugliness. We get too accustomed to our sin. Too comfortable with its presence. Too dismissive of its guilt. Too tolerant of its hideousness. It is a mercy when God calls it to our attention—whether through His providence as He often does, or through His Word as He always does. 

This is a family that desperately needs Jesus. In a world that desperately needs Jesus. All the land was coming to Egypt for necessary earthly bread. But it is God’s greatest mercy when He sends all the earth to this family—ugly as it is in this passage—to receive the bread of everlasting life from its special Son the Lord Jesus. Let us be grateful to God when He exposes our need and provokes us to go to Him!

What sins do you easily look over? What are some ways that God’s providence brings your sin to your attention? In what circumstances does His Word bring your sin to your attention? In what way? What do you do about it?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH341 “Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed”


Friday, January 1, 2021

2021.01.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 6:17–20

Read Ephesians 6:17–20

Questions from the Scripture text: What is the next piece of equipment to take (Ephesians 6:17a)? What is the helmet? What is next? Whose sword is it? What is the sword? What are believers to do always (Ephesians 6:18)? With all of what two things? In Whom? Being what unto this end with all what? And all what? For all of whom? And for whom else specifically (Ephesians 6:19)? That what would be given to him? In order for him to do what in what way? In order to make what known? What relationship does the apostle have to the gospel (Ephesians 6:20)? Into what circumstances has his ambassadorship brought him? How does he wish to speak? Why?

The Christian’s mind is immensely important. As we battle a world whose days are evil, the way not to be conformed to it is to be transformed instead by the renewing of our mind (cf. Romans 12:2). Here, the apostle tells us what God employs for guarding our minds: His salvation. 

Our minds tend to be wrapped up in ourselves, our circumstances, even our enemies—almost anything but our Savior, the state of salvation into which He has brought and is bringing us, and the saving work by which He has done so.  But these are the very things with which our thoughts ought to be obsessed, if our precious minds are to be protected and preserved! This is the helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:17a, cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:8, Romans 13:11).

Those who belong to the light and put on the armor of light (Romans 13:12, cf. Ephesians 5:6–15) are those who keep the eyes of their mind sharply focused upon the rapidly approaching completion of that salvation which Christ has won (Romans 13:11). The unassailable reality of who Christ is and what He has done for us guards our minds by the unassailable certainty of what He shall soon have finished doing in us and to us.

This is part of why the helmet and the sword are so closely connected here. With respect to the battle for our minds, we are like David standing over the giant whom he had just knocked down; we have no sword of our own, and must reach instead for that superior sword that belongs to a far superior Warrior (cf. 1 Samuel 17:45, 1 Samuel 17:50–51; 1 Samuel 21:9). The sword of the Holy Spirit Himself (Ephesians 6:17b)!

What’s interesting in the transition to Ephesians 6:18 is the manner in which this sword is to be wielded—really, the manner in which all of the armor is to be worn. 

We have seen in Ephesians 6:14-16 that there is a strong emphasis on the necessity of participation in corporate worship and the specific activities that God has commanded in it: hearing the truth of Word read and preached, addressing one another with it in songs of the gospel of peace, taking up together at the Lord’s table the breastplate of Christ’s alien righteousness and the shield of faith as the corporate meal shows forth His death and affirms the covenant in His blood.

But now in Ephesians 6:18, the apostle highlights prayer as the means by which this armor that is taken up in the public worship is applied at all times. “Praying always.” The main place that the Spirit leads us to employ His Word is before the face of God Himself. Everything that the Bible tells us about who God is, and what He has done, we are to be constantly bringing back before Him in prayer, acknowledging everything that the Bible tells us about who we are, what we are like, what God requires of us, and what we need in order to do so. 

All prayer. All supplication. What God tells us about Himself and about ourselves in the word of God must become the substance of our praying, for this praying is to be “in the Spirit” Whose sword has just now been mentioned in Ephesians 6:17. This is to be the constant condition of the Christian, as he tells us to pray “with all perseverance,” which he calls “being watchful” (literally, staying awake). The one who is not “praying always” from the Word of God, having God as his constant companion and God’s Word as his constant conversation, is asleep in battle! 

And the apostle immediately gives us a couple of examples of what Word-saturated prayer will be like. It will focus upon what God focuses upon: all of His saints. It will be broad and blanketing in its scope, thinking much upon the whole of Christ’s body. But this broadness will also aim with specificity at those things that Christ Himself has highlighted as necessary. 

The apostle’s mention of his chains carries us back to Ephesians 4:1, where he called himself a prisoner. But he doesn’t ask for an end to the chains. He asks for boldness despite them. He understands that them as reminders of his Ephesians 4:11–14 calling to equip, build-up, unify, mature, and stabilize God’s people in doctrinal truth. One of the main things to pray for, whether praying for the church around the world or specifically for ourselves, is that preachers would be given specific words (Ephesians 6:19, ‘utterance’ is literally “a word”) that they would proclaim in the holy boldness of the office to which they have been called (Ephesians 6:19-20).

So, guard your mind by being obsessed with Christ’s finished and ongoing work. Accumulate a thorough knowledge of Scripture, that becomes the substance of a constant conversation with God your constant companion. And pray especially for those who have been called to minister that Word to God’s people in all places.

With what do your thoughts tend to be consumed? How can they be more consumed with Christ? How do your prayers reflect a care for the church as a whole? How do they reflect a focus on Christ’s plan for His church?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH244 “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”