Each week we LIVESTREAM the Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, Lord's Day morning public worship at 11a, and Lord's Day p.m. singing (3p) and sermon (3:45), and the Midweek Sermon and Prayer Meeting at 6:30p on Wednesday

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Loving with the Lord's Love and Strengthening with the Lord's Strength [Family Worship lesson in Acts 18:11–23]

What is the apostle Paul doing when he’s not church planting? Acts 18:18–23 looks forward to the morning sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these six verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the apostle Paul set an example of edifying and encouraging all of the known churches at the time, that all might be unified in Christ.
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2023.01.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 18:18–23

Read Acts 18:18–23

Questions from the Scripture text: After Paul completed his year and half in Corinth, where did he go (Acts 18:18)? With whom? What does he do where, and why? To where does he come in Acts 18:19? Whom does he leave there? Where does he go? With whom does he dialogue? What do they ask him to do (Acts 18:20)? How does he respond? What does he want to do (Acts 18:21)? What does he promise for when that is over? Where does he land (Acts 18:22)? What does he go up to Jerusalem and do? Then to where does he go down? What does he do in Antioch (Acts 18:23)? Then where does he go (repeating stops from his first missionary journey)? Doing what? 

What is the apostle Paul doing when he’s not church planting? Acts 18:18–23 looks forward to the morning sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these six verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the apostle Paul set an example of edifying and encouraging all of the known churches at the time, that all might be unified in Christ. 

When the apostle’s year and half in Corinth are completed, the apostle bids farewell to the brethren. The mention of Cenchrea probably indicates that he is the founder of that church where Phoebe was a servant (cf. Romans 16:1), and that the ministry at Corinth had borne fruit in the region and not only in that city. 

It seems also that Silas and Timothy stay back, with the mention of Priscilla and Aquila going with him (Acts 18:18) until they part ways upon arrival in Ephesus (Acts 18:19). The Greek of Acts 18:18 allows for it to have been Aquila who had taken the vow and had his head shaved, but we will find later that even Paul has not given up so much of the ceremonial law as he should have (cf. Acts 21:23–26). 

At any rate, he is on his way back to Syria, and there the city of Antioch (cf. Acts 18:22), which was his sending church. But he continues to dialogue with Jews at synagogue (Acts 18:19), perhaps being put in mind of them again by the completion of the Nazirite vow and by his arrival in a new location. Amazingly (for it is amazing, after his general treatment by the Jews on this missionary journey), those in Ephesus actually wish for more of this instruction. 

But it is perhaps even their response that has stirred up this one who loves his brethren according to the flesh to wish to have opportunity to minister to a great many of them in Jerusalem, when the population there would swell greatly, and there would be people there from every nation under heaven (Acts 18:21, cf. Acts 2:5). 

Here, the large-hearted apostle is an example of a man full of the Spirit. For, his interest in souls goes in all directions: not only to the throng and church (cf. Acts 18:22) in Jerusalem, but also to the Ephesians (to whom he promises to return), and to the churches of his second missionary journey. To these, he returns on his way back, that he might further strengthen them, as he had done with the churches at the end of his first missionary journey, Acts 18:23 (cf. Acts 14:21–22, Acts 16:6). 

Here, we may see that one in whom the mind of Christ is being formed will care for all saints in all places, and will do good to however many the Lord will enable and permit him (cf. Acts 18:21). As the mind of Christ is formed in you, dear Christian, you will care more and more for believers around the world. And, you will be seeking to strengthen those among whom the Lord places you in whatever ways that He permits you.

Among what saints has the Lord placed you? What opportunities do you already have for strengthening them that you are not taking up? What further opportunities might you produce, God enabling you? What place do saints around the world have in your thoughts and prayers? What else might you be able to do for them?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You for Your church, which You are building for Your glory. We thank You that Your saints are precious for Your sake, and even in themselves by virtue of their union with You. Grant unto us to love and serve them in every way that we can, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP87 “The LORD’S Foundation Has Been Set” or TPH405 “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord”

Friday, January 27, 2023

Christ Shown Forth in Divine Strength, Righteousness, and Love [2023.01.25 Midweek Sermon in Romans 5:6–8]


The gospel is not only the power of God for salvation and the revelation of the righteousness of God through faith, but the demonstration of God's love, and the display of Christ as this God!

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The LORD Our Possessor, Protector, and Provider [Family Worship lesson in Exodus 30:11–16]

What is the most important way to muster the men of Israel? Exodus 31:11–16 looks forward to the p.m. sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these six verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that when the men were numbered for census, it was not so much that they could be mustered for war as to be memorialized before the Lord; Israel would be protected by atonement, not by military size.
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2023.01.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 30:11–16

Read Exodus 30:11–16

Questions from the Scripture text: How does this passage begin, for the first time since Exodus 25:1 (Exodus 30:11)? What is he to take of the people (Exodus 30:12)? What must every man give, when he is counted? What will happen if every numbered man does not give the ransom price? How much must every counted man give (Exodus 30:13)? What does this half-shekel become? Which males, specifically, are to be numbered (Exodus 30:14)? Who are not to give more (Exodus 30:15)? Who are not to give less? What does this ransom offering do for them? What are the priests to use the ransom money for (Exodus 30:16)? What would putting it into the tabernacle service do?

What is the most important way to muster the men of Israel? Exodus 31:11–16 looks forward to the p.m. sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these six verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that when the men were numbered for census, it was not so much that they could be mustered for war as to be memorialized before the Lord; Israel would be protected by atonement, not by military size. 

Dangerous business. Census-taking is risky. When Yahweh is angry with Israel in 2 Samuel 24, He provokes David to number the people. In the passage before us, we see the danger involved. It requires a ransom (Exodus 30:12). It may induce a plague (verse 12). It requires an offering (Exodus 30:13). It requires an offering (Exodus 30:14). It requires making atonement (Exodus 30:15). The money is atonement money (Exodus 30:16). To make atonement for yourselves (verse 16).

Indeed, all of this atonement and ransom language isn’t new. The redemption of the firstborn taught this in Exodus 13:11–16. All of the sacrifices and furniture and atonement/ordination in the priesthood have communicated this. But why such danger associated with a census? 

The word translated "number" in Exodus 30:12-13 is derived from the lifting up of heads and has military connotations —a headcount of mustered troops. Exodus 30:14 corroborates this; it is only males over 20 whose heads are counted. 

Israel needed safety from her enemies, but it would be the Lord Who is her protection. Even when He uses her fighting men, it is still He Who gives victory. And, as we see throughout the history of Israel, He does not even need to use them to give victory! But before she needs safety from her enemies, Israel needs safety from her God. His holiness among her is dangerous. And the tabernacle is the presence of that holiness.

All God’s people, equally invested and equally safe in Christ. The amount of the atonement could never be high enough. (indeed, we know that eventually the amount of the atonement must be Christ). The Lord sets it low enough that even the poor can afford it to communicate that the same atonement is necessary for every single man. For women and children, there would be a man through whom that fellowship was covenantally represented, but they would know that God was their God and had protected them through their man. And by taking this census at the beginning of the tabernacle project, the Lord communicates to the people that each of them is equally invested in the Lord and in His presence among the people. The rich are not more invested, and the poor are not less invested.

God’s presence among us a reminder of the payment of our atonement. Exodus 30:16 calls this investing of the census money in the tabernacle service “a memorial for the children of Israel before Yahweh.” Every single man of military age, rich or poor, would know that he has an equal share in that atonement, an equal share in that presence. And he would know that the Lord wanted him to know. There isn’t just safety here, there is fellowship.

God doesn’t just give His people safety in Christ. He gives us fellowship with Himself in the knowledge of that safety in Christ. He is our strength and protection from all enemies, and from His own wrath. Even more, He means for us to remember the cost of that atonement every time we know His presence to us in Christ.

When do you see or know God’s presence to you in Christ? What did that presence cost? Why? What habit have you made of remembering this?

Sample prayer: Lord, thank You for being our alimghty shield and infinitely great reward. And thank You for atoning for us by Christ, so that we could have You as our prize and our projection. And thank You for bringing us into Your presence always through Christ, so that we might remember the glorious cost of our atonement. Grant that Your Spirit would continually bring these home to our hearts, we ask in Christ’s Name, AMEN!

 Suggested songs: ARP141A “I Call You, Lord” or TPH522 “Behold, the Throne of Grace!”

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Establishing a Roll (and Payroll!) of Full-Time, Praying Widows [Family Worship lesson in 1Timothy 5:5–10]

How does one who has “learned to show piety at home” show that piety when she becomes a widow? 1 Timothy 5:5–8 looks forward to the second reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these six verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that a true widow is left only with God, but has learned a fellowship with Him that gives her more than enough to do with her time/life.
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2023.01.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Timothy 5:5–10

Read 1 Timothy 5:5-10

Questions from the Scripture text: What woman is 1 Timothy 5:5 talking about? In what condition has she been left (verse 5, i.e., without children or grandchildren, cf. 1 Timothy 5:4)? What is her security? What is her occupation? When does she do this supplicating and praying? What does 1 Timothy 5:6 call the life of a widow who does something else? What condition is she in? What is the church to do with this teaching (1 Timothy 5:7a)? With what desired result for widows and families (verse 7b)? For whom is one to provide (1 Timothy 5:8)? Especially which ones? If he doesn’t, then what does he deny? What condition does this put him in? What widows mustn’t be put on the list (1 Timothy 5:9a)? For those over 60, what must they have done (1 Timothy 5:9-10)? Which good works in specific? Which others?

How does one who has “learned to show piety at home” show that piety when she becomes a widow? 1 Timothy 5:5–10 looks forward to the second reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these six verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that a true widow is left only with God, but has learned a fellowship with Him that gives her more than enough to do with her time/life. 

Piety begins at home for the minister (or congregant) who wishes to speak respectfully in the congregation (1 Timothy 5:1). Piety begins at home for children and grandchildren whom God gives the opportunity to repay their parents (1 Timothy 5:4). And piety begins (1 Timothy 5:5) and stays (cf. 1 Timothy 5:13) at home for true widows.

Whom do they have left at home? If they’re a true widow(?)… none. She who is really a widow has been left alone. But not entirely alone. She hopes (better translation than “trusts”) in God. She’s content with Him; she isn’t hoping for more than Him. So, she doesn’t need more to have.

She also doesn’t need more to do. She might not have a husband to obey and serve (1 Timothy 5:9b, cf. 1 Timothy 5:14a, Titus 2:4a). She might not have children to love and rear (cf. 1 Timothy 5:14b, Titus 2:4b). She might no longer be equipped to take strangers in to lodge them, particularly road-weary saints whose feet to wash (1 Timothy 5:10, Titus 2:5a). But she still has One upon Whom to attend. And she loves to make every sort of prayer (summarized under the pair “supplications and prayers”) at every sort of time (summarized under the pair “night and day”), 1 Timothy 5:5.

This life of piety finds its pleasure not in indulging itself but in God. There are those who would rather indulge themselves than take the God-given opportunity to provide for their own, and especially of their own household. This living unto self is denounced by 1 Timothy 5:8 as “denying the faith and worse than an unbelievers.” And there are those who would rather indulge themselves than live night and day in supplications and prayers. This living unto self is denounced by 1 Timothy 5:6 as being “dead while she lives.”

The apostle’s concern is that the minister’s and church’s concern would be the spiritual well-being of all. That they would Titus 2:5 all learn to have their hope in God, that they would all learn to live unto Him instead of unto self (cf. Psalm 78:7Titus 2:5b). “Command and teach these things that they may be blameless” (1 Timothy 5:7, cf. Psalm 78:5–6).  The church is not to help children/grandchildren deny the faith, nor is it to help widows who don’t care to live a life of prayer end up with too much time on their hands and live in a dead way.

It takes years of maturing through a life in which there is little time for much else but service to get her to this point. In fact, even in a congregation where this kind of godliness for younger women and wives is practiced, the assumption is that it will still take those decades to mature her to the spiritual place of 1 Timothy 5:5. The apostle flatly says not to enroll any woman who is under 60 (1 Timothy 5:9a). 

Indeed, being put on the list would be a crown of dignity, attesting the Lord’s gracious work in her and through her over the course of a lifetime. And what an opportunity that then becomes for the church that has the privilege of providing a dignified life for such a royal lady in Israel. For wives and mothers (and single ladies who are commanded to seek marriage and children, cf. 1 Timothy 5:14), it is much-needed to have such royal older ladies in the church, who are godly examples (cf. Titus 2:3) unto the admonishment of the younger (cf. Titus 2:4). May these much-needed ladies be accordingly treasured and cared for by their churches!

What older ladies do you know who live in the contentment and service described in this passage? How are they being taken care of? How are you (or the younger ladies in your life) living a sort of life that makes progress toward that level of maturity by the age of 60? Who has been assigned to you in your life? What do your roles/relations to them require of you? How are you fulfilling them as a life-mission of service unto God?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for putting us in our places and relations so that we may practice our piety first at home. Forgive us for begrudging our service to them. For doing that service half-heartedly and half-way. Truly, we know constantly the tendency toward denying the faith and being worse than unbelievers. Forgive us for how we are not contented with You. In truth, very few of us can endure in prayer for an hour, let alone night and day. How close we come to living for pleasure, how close to being dead even while we live! But You have not only atoned for us in Christ, but You work in us by Your Spirit over the course of our lives to work in us that contentment and love and service. Continue and complete that work in us we pray, through Christ, AMEN!

ARP128 “How Blessed Are All Who Fear the Lord” or TPH128B “Blest the Man That Fears Jehovah”

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

How Amaziah's Limitations Press Home to Us That the King that We Need Is Jesus [Family Worship lesson in 2Kings 14:1–22]

Why do we need a perfect King? 2Kings 14:1–22 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twenty-two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that because Amaziah was an insufficient king, his reign was limited in its godliness, power, and longevity; the King that we need is Jesus.
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2023.01.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Kings 14:1–22

Read 2 Kings 14:1–22

Questions from the Scripture text: In what year of the north does 2 Kings 14:1 take place? Who became king in the south? How old was he (2 Kings 14:2)? How long did he reign? Who was his mother? What did he do (2 Kings 14:3)? With what limitation? Like whom (2 Kings 14:3-4, cf. 2 Kings 12:3)? What was his first royal act (2 Kings 14:5, cf. 2 Kings 12:20)? What didn’t he do (2 Kings 14:6)? Why (cf. Deuteronomy 24:16)? What victories did the Lord give him (2 Kings 14:7)? Then whom did he want to take on (2 Kings 14:8)? With a parable about what did Jehoash reply (2 Kings 14:9)? What happens to the thistle in the parable? How does he explain the parable (2 Kings 14:10)? How effective is this message (2 Kings 14:11)? What action follows? With what outcome for Judah (2 Kings 14:12)? And what outcome for Amaziah (2 Kings 14:13a)? And what outcome for Jerusalem (verse 13b)? What did he take (2 Kings 14:14, cf. 2 Kings 12:13, 2 Kings 12:18)? Whose summary from the north is repeated in 2 Kings 14:15-16 (cf. 2 Kings 13:12–13)? Who outlived him in the south, by how long (2 Kings 14:17)? What does 2 Kings 14:18 imply weren’t important enough to this account to record here? How did he die (2 Kings 14:19, cf. 2 Kings 13:20–21)? With whom was he buried (2 Kings 14:20)? Whom did they make king in his place (2 Kings 14:21)? How old was he? What port town did he immediately rebuild (2 Kings 14:22)?

Why do we need a perfect King? 2 Kings 14:1–22 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twenty-two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that because Amaziah was an insufficient king, his reign was limited in its godliness, power, and longevity; the King that we need is Jesus. 

The Davidic dynasty is still going strong (2 Kings 14:3). The promise that will be completed when the resurrected Christ rises from the dead and sits upon the throne of glory is still eking along. From a human perspective, it seems like northern Jehoash stomped on the thistle that was Amaziah in 2 Kings 14:9-13. But the surprise twist of repeating Jehoash’s death summary (2 Kings 14:15-16, cf. 2 Kings 13:12–13) reminds us that political, military, and economic power of this world lasts but a moment. 2 Kings 14:17 drives the point home: Amaziah lived fifteen years after the death of Jehoash. So, the persistence of God’s promise is the subtext of the passage.

Upon the foundation of this subtext, the Spirit tells a history that emphasizes the various comings-up-short of Amaziah.

He came up short spiritually2 Kings 14:1-4. We’re looking for the David-like king that is greater than David, who will have the Psalm 72:5–7 effect upon the piety of his people. But even Amaziah’s placement in the “did what was right” column (2 Kings 14:3a) comes with an asterisk. He’s less than David. Like father Joash (and many others), like son; the high places remain.

He came up short politically/militarily2 Kings 14:5-14. Again, there are promising things. He serves biblical justice in 2 Kings 14:5-6 and has a David-like victory over the Edomites (2 Kings 14:7, cf. 1 Chronicles 18:12). But he bites of more than he can chew when he confronts the northern king whose throne is in Samaria (2 Kings 14:8-14). Not until the Son of David sits upon the throne of glory will the Davidic kingdom gather Samaria back to Judea. And then, with Samaria, will follow the ends of the earth! But not so for thistle-ish Amaziah.

He came up short in longevity2 Kings 14:15-22. Amaziah’s reign coincides almost exactly with northern Joash’s, starting in the second year of the latter (2 Kings 14:2). And despite Joash’s besting him so badly in battle, Amaziah just about doubles him in length of reign (2 Kings 14:17). But he dies in much the same way as his father (2 Kings 14:17-20) whom he had avenged (2 Kings 14:5, cf. 2 Kings 12:20–21). His son, Azariah/Uzziah (2 Kings 14:21) makes a Solomonic-like start (2 Kings 14:22, cf. 1 Kings 9:26; 2 Chronicles 8:17), but more on him later, when he (like all the others before him) stir up in us a longing for king Jesus!

What leadership in the church comes up short? What leadership doesn’t?! What leadership in the nation comes up short? What leadership won’t? What events (should?) stir up your longing for Him?

Sample prayer: Lord, thank You for keeping Your promise to David. Forgive us for being those who serve You in half-measures like Amaziah. Forgive us for becoming proud, like he did, after You gave him some small victories. Thank You that Jesus has obeyed You in full on our behalf. Thank You that He humbled Himself to win full and forever victory. Forgive us for His sake, and give us to Him as His due, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP72A “God, Give Your Judgments to the King” or TPH72A “O God, Your Judgments Give the King” 

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

God's Way of Training Us to Hope in His Salvation So That We Obey Him [Family Worship lesson in Psalm 78:9–31]

How quickly and shockingly can God’s people forget Him and rebel? Psalm 78:9–31 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twenty-three verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that our sinful natures are like those of that wilderness generation, who had been saved by glorious works but almost immediately sinned, rebelled against, spoke against, and tested God in their hearts.
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