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

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Wisdom and Patience in Admonishing for the Peace and Health of the Church (Family Worship lesson in 1Thessalonians 5:12–15)

Why should we acknowledge, esteem, and love those whom the Lord has set over us? Pastor leads his family in today's Hopewell @Home passage. 1Thessalonians 5:12–15 looks forward to the second serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the Lord expects us to customize wisely our interactions with each type of person in His church.
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2022.05.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Thessalonians 5:12–15

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:12–15

Questions from the Scripture text: In what three ways are elders (and maybe deacons) described in 1 Thessalonians 5:12? What does the apostolic term call the Thessalonians? But what are they to do with their elders? And what else in 1 Thessalonians 5:13? How much? In what manner? For what? What command does this enable them to keep with the elders and the brethren? Now concerning whom does the apostolic team instruct them (1 Thessalonians 5:14)? What are they to do with these unruly (idle) people? Concerning what three other types of people are they instructed? Which specific command applies to which specific people? What will this keep them from doing—which they mustn’t do (1 Thessalonians 5:15a)? what must they do instead (verse 15b)? For whom will this be good?

Why should we acknowledge, esteem, and love those whom the Lord has set over us?  1 Thessalonians 5:12–15 looks forward to the second serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the Lord expects us to customize wisely our interactions with each type of person in His church. 

“Be at peace among yourselves”
Thus closes 1 Thessalonians 5:13’s instruction about how to interact with those who are over us and admonish us. Then, in 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15, the Spirit describes various types of admonishment with which to respond to various types of believers in the congregation. The connection seems clear: if we learn to receive admonition well from our elders, and if we learn from our elders how to give good admonition to others, then the whole body will be better equipped to be built up in a way that “is good both for yourselves and for all” (end of 1 Thessalonians 5:15). So, what types of people in the congregation require what type of response from us?

“Recognize those who labor among you”
The type of labor is spelled our in the next couple phrases: oversight and admonishment. For those who are called to this labor, they should recognize it as “work” (1 Thessalonians 5:13a) for the “peace” (verse 13b) and “good” (1 Thessalonians 5:15) of the church. This will keep them from lording it over those whom they are called to serve by authority. If they do not “labor” and “work” in this way, those who are in authority will have themselves to thank when they are not recognized, esteemed, or loved.

And for those who are under the authority, recognizing the nature (labor/work) and purpose (peace/good) of the authority that is over them is needful. If we do not “recognize them” and “esteem them very highly” and “love” them, we will find ourselves resisting their authority and failing to get our benefit from them.

“Warn those who are unruly”
The word is a military term that literally means “untactical.” Anyone who is idle, lazy, unprepared, undisciplined, or disorderly falls under this term. It may be tempting just to work around such folks, but they are a danger to themselves and others. They need to be warned. A congregational culture of healthy giving/receiving admonishment enables us all to be helpful not only to the unruly one, but to the entire congregation, within the various relationships and closeness that God gives us in the church.

“Comfort the fainthearted”
Sometimes church members know what they ought to do, and have some skill and ability in doing it, but they grow weary in well-doing. Perhaps a perceived lack of fruit has discouraged them, or perhaps it has gotten more difficult, or perhaps plugging away in the same role for a long time has just “gotten old.” The overseer-admonishers whom the Lord has set over us should lead the way in consoling and encouraging such weary members. And the more we have been receptively on the receiving end of such encouragement and consolation, the more we will be equipped to be brother-consolers and brother-encouragers. 

“Uphold the weak”
Sometimes, church members simply aren’t that far along yet in knowledge or maturity. Sometimes their ability is just small—physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. They need more than encouragement. They need someone with more strength to pull them along. And the instruction here is literally to “keep holding on to” them. If someone in the church needs you to pull them through, don’t let go when your own strength seems to sag! Those in leadership must set their faces like flint, and doggedly depend upon the Lord, in order to keep pressing on. And it will be in those moments when they most feel like they themselves can’t go on that it will be most necessary for them not to let go of those with less strength. This culture of being devoted to helping the weak, rather than despising the weak, is one that starts at the top—both in heavenly terms (almighty God never letting go of us powerless men) and in earthly terms (elders/husbands/fathers not despising the weak but rather bearing even more of the load for them).

“Be patient with all”
In all things in this life, we fail much. Following the instructions in this passage will not be a one-time or one-off. It’s something that we will have to do. And keeping doing. And do again. When the Lord has to command us to be patient, we should admit that it will be our natural (fleshly) inclination to be impatient. To say, “I think I’ve done enough of that for them.” But we mustn’t. We must be patient with all. Every single other member will test our patience at some point. AND WE will test the patience, at some point, of every single other member.

“See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone”
We can see by the “no one” and “anyone” that this instruction is the twin of “be patient with all.” At some point, we are going to feel the urge to do worse than just give up on someone. Something they do will positively harm us (or appear to us to do so) or offend us. And we will be tempted to render evil for evil.

In fact, we’ll likely think that this is the one time that this is permissible. The special case in which they have just gone too far. Not so fast, my brother! The Spirit anticipates such reasoning and says, “See that no one” does this: you are not a special one who gets to do this. The Spirit anticipates such reasoning and says not to do this “to anyone”: they are not the specially bad one against whom this would be excusable. No, we must always pursue what is good. As the apostle says elsewhere, “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Keep doing good not until you’ve exhausted your inclination to do so, but until you’ve done all, and the peace just wasn’t possible!

Truly, it’s a profoundly loving and forgiving congregational life (cf. Ephesians 4:25–5:7) that is meant to be produced by submission to proper doctrinal oversight and admonition (cf. Ephesians 4:1–24). A biblically faithful ministry of oversight and admonition is a great gift from Christ! We should highly value it, and seek to avail ourselves under it until we all thrive by it.

With whom have you especially needed to exercise patience? In what types of interaction with them? What helpers has the Lord given you for establishing and building this patience?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You for encouraging us, for warning us, for helping us in our weakness—and for persisting with us in everything that we need from You. Forgive us! For, we are not like You in these things, but are often impatient with one another and find our remaining fleshliness quite ready to repay evil for evil. But Christ has repaid our sin by dying for us, so that we might be both forgiven and cleansed, which we ask through Him, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”


Wednesday, May 25, 2022

The Why, How, and What of Rehoboam's Spiritual, Moral, and National Disaster (Family Worship lesson in 1Kings 14:21–31)

After the folly of Rehoboam in aligning with his “youth group,” and the God-hating of Jeroboam in following his own way of worship, what does the Lord want us to take away from Rehoboam’s reign as a whole? Pastor leads his family in today's Hopewell @Home passage. 1Kings 14:21–31 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these eleven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the consequences of seemingly small sins (even when appearances are kept up of faithfulness) can snowball into devastation for families, churches, and nations (even when appearances are kept up of prosperity).
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2022.05.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Kings 14:21–31

Read 1 Kings 14:21–31

Questions from the Scripture text: Who was king in Judah  (1 Kings 14:21)? At what age? For how long?  Where? Why is this special? Who was his mother (cf. Genesis 4:22)? Where was she from? Who did what (1 Kings 14:22)? In Whose sight? To what did they provoke Him? How much? What did they do, where? What were there in the land ((1 Kings 14:24)? Similar to whom? What had happened to the originals? What happened in the fifth year of Rehoboam ((1 Kings 14:25)? What did Shishak do with the treasuries ((1 Kings 14:26)? What else did he take? With what did Rehoboam replace them ((1 Kings 14:27)? Who oversaw them? When did the guards carry them ((1 Kings 14:28)? What did they do after? What weren’t important enough to make it into this account ((1 Kings 14:29)? What additional footnote does (1 Kings 14:30 add? What two things happen to Rehoboam in (1 Kings 14:31? With whom? But who is mentioned again (cf. (1 Kings 14:21)? Who reigned in his place?

After the folly of Rehoboam in aligning with his “youth group,” and the God-hating of Jeroboam in following his own way of worship, what does the Lord want us to take away from Rehoboam’s reign as a whole?  1 Kings 14:21–31 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these eleven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the consequences of seemingly small sins (even when appearances are kept up of faithfulness) can snowball into devastation for families, churches, and nations (even when appearances are kept up of prosperity).

Previously, the Lord taught us about some of the things to which He might give us over, if He is bringing curse down upon us (cf. 1 Kings 12:1–24). Now the Lord both reminds us of why He gave Rehoboam over to such folly in the first place, and warns us of how devastating the consequences can be.

The disastrous reign of Rehoboam is a consequence of Solomon’s sin.
By framing in the narrative with “His mother’s name was Naamah, an Ammonitess” in (1 Kings 14:21) and 1 Kings 14:31, the Spirit reminds us what Solomon had done. He had married many foreign women (cf. 1 Kings 11:1), and they turned his heart away from Yahweh (cf. 1 Kings 11:2). Indeed, if David’s son had gone after Milcom (1 Kings 11:5) and Molech (1 Kings 11:7) of the Ammonites, what could be expected of Rehoboam son of Solomon and an Ammonite woman? 

The disaster of Rehoboam’s reign is immense.
God’s delivering the nation/church of Israel for Himself had been a glorious victory over wicked Egypt to bring them out of slavery, and a glorious victory over the wicked Canaanite nations to bring them into their land. But now, the land is so full of idolatry (1 Kings 14:23) and perversity (1 Kings 14:24a) that Judah has become Canaan 2.0 (verse 24b). Being given over to the sins of the world is a devastating judgment upon a professing church or previously believing nation!

And to drive home the judicial/penal nature of this disaster, it is Shishak king of Egypt (1 Kings 14:25) who now empties the treasuries of Yahweh’s house and the king’s house (1 Kings 14:26a) and removes the golden shields (verse 26b). Here were the great successes of Solomon: the building of Yahweh’s house (cf. chapters 6–8), the building of the king’s house and other structures (1 Kings 7:1–11), and the installation of the economic machine that had produced these opulent display shields (1 Kings 10:14–29). Israel had plundered Egypt on their way out (cf. Genesis 15:14; Exodus 3:21–22, Exodus 12:36), and now Egypt has plundered the greatest of Solomon’s achievements in one fell swoop.

Still, Rehoboam tried to keep up appearances of faithfulness and prosperity.
Rather than repenting of all of the false worship and immorality into which he and his father led Israel, Rehoboam made a big display of whenever he “went to Yahweh church” (1 Kings 14:28a). And rather than admitting how humiliating the reversal of the Exodus judgment/plundering had been, he substituted “fool’s bronze” to maintain some appearance of doing well (1 Kings 14:27). Just because we’ve actually come under such judgments as those against which this passage warns doesn’t mean that the church or nation that is under the judgment will recognize it!

So in our passage today, the Lord drives home just how much good, and how long a church or nation’s prosperity, can be undone so quickly by the consequences of not being watchful against sin in marriage choices or worship. Let us who think we stand take heed lest we fall!

What are some ways that believers make similar marriage and worship choices to Solomon’s and Rehoboam’s? Why do churches under judgment sometimes still appear faithful or alive?

Sample prayer:  Lord, how dreadful that even after sinning like Canaanites, Rehoboam could make a display of worship in Your temple. And even after being plundered by Egypt, Rehoboam could make display of ongoing prosperity and strength. Forgive our sin, and do not let our treacherous marriage choices or traitorous worship choices come down upon us or our children. Whenever You bring Your hand of discipline upon us, grant that we would be humiliated and repentant rather than proud and self-deceived, which we ask through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP51B “From My Sins, O Hide Your Face” or TPH180 “Kind and Merciful God, We Have Sinned”


Tuesday, May 24, 2022

The Great Prerequisite, Purpose, and Pleasure of a New Heart (Family Worship lesson in Psalm 51:9–19)

How and why does a sinner get a new heart? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Psalm 51:9–19 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these eleven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the prerequisite of a new heart is to be chosen in our atoning Christ, the purpose of a new heart is to praise God, and the pleasure of a new heart is God to get all His praise from all His people whom He redeems.
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2022.05.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 51:9–19

Read Psalm 51:9–19

Questions from the Scripture text: What does David need before he can have cleansing (Psalm 51:9)? What will David need once his sin is both forgiven and wiped out (Psalm 51:10)? From where will this clean heart and steadfast spirit come (Psalm 51:11)? What else does His presence bring (Psalm 51:12)? And what will David do in response to this joy (Psalm 51:13)? How does he summarize his request in Psalm 51:14? How will he respond (Psalm 51:14-15)? What can’t obtain this deliverance (Psalm 51:16)? But what are the necessary circumstantial conditions which please God (Psalm 51:17)? For whom else does David hope this same forgiveness, cleansing, and new heart/joy (Psalm 51:18a)? With what result (Psalm 51:18-19)? 

As we saw in the first half of the Psalm, sinners sin because they have been sinners to the core from when they came into this world. We need desperately to be remade from the inside out (Psalm 51:10). Just for continuing to exist, we require the presence of God and the work of the Holy Spirit (Psalm 51:11).  

But before we can be cleansed, we must be forgiven. Sinners don’t deserve to be cleansed. As long as they have iniquity and guilt, the justice of God refuses to give us His life. And without His life, we cannot even begin to be cleansed. So David cries out in Psalm 51:9, “Hide your face from my sins, and blot out my iniquities,” and in Psalm 51:14, “Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God.” 

But we need to be cleansed not just so that we can start fresh, but so that we can fulfill our purpose: the praise and enjoyment of God. We need this clean heart and new, steadfast spirit so that we may sing aloud of God’s righteousness (Psalm 51:14c), and praise Him (Psalm 51:15b) with the lips that He Himself has opened (verse 15a). We need this clean heart and new, steadfast spirit so that we may rejoice with the joy of His salvation (Psalm 51:12a).

Ultimately, it’s not our sacrifices that God wants (Psalm 51:16). In the last four verses of the Psalm, David is responding to the goodness of God in having forgiven him and cleansed him. How greatly he wishes to honor and thank God! But what do you give to the God Who has everything? Answer: whatever He wants. And what He wants is the humble, grateful hearts of redeemed sinners. A broken spirit (Psalm 51:17a), a broken and a contrite heart (verse 17b)—God doesn’t actually need these things, but He is pleased to receive them. This, He does not despise (verse 17c). 

As David offers his heart to his merciful, forgiving God, he also expresses his desire for the good of God’s people. God is glorified in His church, His Zion, His Jerusalem (Psalm 51:18). And David’s desire is that they would be prospered in order to keep conducting that public worship (Psalm 51:19) in which God’s Name is praised by a great assembly of those who bring the sort of heart described in Psalm 51:17.

Come to God for forgiveness. So that you may be forgiven and cleansed. In order that your mouth may be opened with praise, and your heart filled with joy. As you join in worship with a multitude of others who have been saved by the same mercy!

What should you want to give God? What must happen before you can do so? With whom will you respond?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for blotting out our iniquities and delivering us from our guilt. Now, create in us clean hearts, restore to us the joy of our salvation, and open our lips so that our mouths may show forth Your praise! Receive our humble, thankful hearts. And delight in the corporate praise of this assembly of those whom You have thus redeemed in Jesus Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP51B “From My Sins, O Hide Your Face” or TPH51C “God, Be Merciful to Me”


Monday, May 23, 2022

Theology Simply Explained — WSC36 Believers' Further Benefits in This Life

Pastor walks his children through Westminster Shorter Catechism question 36. What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption and sanctification? The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption and sanctification, are, assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.
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Created and Redeemed to Bear God's Glorious Name upon Our Lives and upon Our Lips (2022.05.22 Evening Sermon in Exodus 20:7)

We were created and especially redeemed to bear God's Name upon our lives in His image and upon our lips in His worship—and that if we never take our sin and His glory seriously, then we can never be saved because we will be despisers of Christ.
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God's Purposes in Persecution: How the Gospel Goes to Judea and Samaria (2022.05.22 Morning Sermon in Acts 8:1–8)

In this age God is overruling even (and especially) persecution to spread the gospel with saving power and divine joy.
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Why Should I Be Interested in Church History? (2022.05.22 Sabbath School lesson)

"Why Should I be Interested in Church History" in the RHB series, "Cultivating Biblical Godliness."- 2 of 2
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