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

Monday, November 30, 2020

The Proper Nourishment of Christ's Children by Christian Fathers (2020.11.29 Evening Sermon in Ephesians 6:4)

The proper nourishment of Christ's children for their learning to obey and honor is led and overseen by Christian fathers, who are also under Christ. Whether they are led into righteousness or provoked to wrath depends much upon their fathers' being careful to give them every advantage in restraining their sin. For their nourishment, their Lord has given training and instruction, especially via the means of grace.

What It's Like When Yahweh Is with You in Circumstances, Temptation, and Redemption (2020.11.29 Morning Sermon in Genesis 39)

Yahweh being with Joseph prospered some circumstances but made others much more painful and difficult. More than that, Yahweh being with Joseph sustained in him wisdom, cheerful diligence, and resistance of temptation. But most of all, Yahweh being with Joseph accomplished all that was necessary for Christ to come into the world to save Joseph—and all who believe in Him.

Day of Worship 10, The Eternal Sabbath (2020.11.29 Sabbath School)

The weekly Sabbath rest anticipates the eternal rest of glory, with worship as its singular great activity, shaping how we keep the day as resident aliens who are observing the culture of their homeland.

2020.11.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 39

Read Genesis 39

Questions from the Scripture text: Where had Joseph been taken (Genesis 39:1)? Who bought him from whom? What position did the buyer have? Who was with Joseph (Genesis 39:2)? With what result? Where was Joseph? What did his master see about him in Genesis 39:3? What did Joseph “find” in Genesis 39:4? What did he end up doing (Genesis 39:4-5)? What does verse 5 emphasize as the cause of all the prospering? How much did Potiphar entrust to Joseph (Genesis 39:6)? What little comment does v6 make at the end? Who notices (Genesis 39:7)? What does she do? What does he say his master has given him (Genesis 39:8)? What does he say his master has withheld from him (Genesis 39:9)? Against whom does he say he would be sinning if he did this? When did she try this (Genesis 39:10)? How did he respond every time? Who is in the house with Joseph one day (Genesis 39:11)? Who catches him, how (Genesis 39:12)? What does she say? What does he do? What does she see in Genesis 39:13? Whom does she call (Genesis 39:14)? What does she say happened (Genesis 39:15)? What does she hang onto for how long (Genesis 39:16)? Whom does she tell what in Genesis 39:17-18? How did Potiphar feel about her telling this story (Genesis 39:19)? What did he do with joseph (Genesis 39:20)? Who was with Joseph there (Genesis 39:21)? In whose sight did He give him favor? What did the prison keeper entrust to Joseph (Genesis 39:22)? What didn’t the keeper of the prison look into (Genesis 39:23a)? Why not?

When the Lord is “continually with us” (cf. Psalm 73:23), sometimes things go the way that Asaph thought they were going at the beginning of that Psalm. For Joseph, the Lord being with him did mean that he ended up a house slave instead of a field slave (much better working conditions and life expectancy), and whatever he did seemed to prosper (Genesis 39:2Genesis 39:3Genesis 39:5Genesis 39:23; cf. Psalm 1:3e).

But the Lord being with Joseph also meant getting sold into slavery, lied about, and wrongly imprisoned. Even though we understand intellectually that walking with God may include many difficulties, we still tend to bristle at them, and begin to buckle if there are too many of them.

What’s harder for us is when these difficulties come in the form of temptations. We resist a severe temptation. Then, the temptation keeps on coming and coming. We’re even taught to pray “lead us not into temptation” (Matthew 6:13). But sometimes, God’s providence to us is not to spare us from the temptation but to deliver us from the evil. To provide the way out that we so desperately need (1 Corinthians 10:13).

These temptations are even harder on believers than miserable earthly circumstances. But even severe or persistent temptation is not an indicator that the Lord is not with us. For, the emphasis of this passage is definitely that the Lord is with Joseph in that special way that He is with His people by His grace.

If, then, the Lord being with us is not reflected primarily in better circumstances, where can we most see it? In Joseph’s case, we see the Lord being with him not in the hardness (or not) of his circumstances but the diligence and uprightness of his work in those circumstances. It’s one thing for your foreign master to feel like he doesn’t have to look into anything under your care… but even your prison warden?!

And, in Joseph’s case, we can see the Lord being with him not in the lack of temptation, or the lightness of temptation, or the lighting up of the temptation…but we see the Lord being with him rather in his resisting those temptations and in the way that he did so: viewing everything that he does as unto or against God, and being more willing to be thought guilty than to be actually guilty.

But most of all, we see the Lord being with Joseph in the fact that He was using Joseph to preserve Israel. And that this preservation of Israel was so that He would bring Christ into the world to be Joseph’s Redeemer, and gain for Him perfect blessing, forever.

Dear Christian, may the Lord give you the best of circumstances. And may the Lord prosper everything you do. And may the Lord grant you diligence even in hard jobs. And may the Lord grant you to see yourself always before His face and to hate to sin even more than you hate for others to think you a sinner. And most of all, may the Lord grant to you to know that you are His in Christ, as your certainty that He is with you.

What hard circumstances are you in? What temptation do you face? How do you know the Lord is with you?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH243 “How Firm a Foundation”


Saturday, November 28, 2020

The Reverent Life Is the Blessed Life (Family Worship in Proverbs 28:14)

What is the happiest sort of life? Pastor leads his family in a verse from the "Proverb of the day." In this verse we learn that the happiest life is the one that is actually spent trembling in wonder at and worship of God. The superficial lightness after which most of the world runs is actually a hard-heartedness toward God, whereas those who are tender toward Him have been giving the gift of seeing His glory and living for that glory —a gift that is part of the everlasting blessedness that Christ has won for believers.

Born Again and Nourished by the Imperishable Seed of the Word (2020.11.28 Pastoral Letter and Hopewell Herald)

Hopewell Herald – November 28, 2020

Dear Congregation,

In this past week’s morning sermon, we heard that one of the ways that God is merciful to such sinners as we are is by giving us covenant children as His holy seed, and especially by bringing Christ into the world as the seed of the woman.

This theme of undeserved begetting and undeserved birth runs from Genesis 3 through John 3, holding out to us how merciful God is to dead and guilty sinners—and a great part of that mercy now stands before us in the form of His day and His worship tomorrow.

This week in the M’Cheyne plan, we were reading 1Peter 1, where we find this glorious passage:

22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 24 because

“All flesh is as grass,

And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.

The grass withers,

And its flower falls away,

25       But the word of the Lord endures forever.”

Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.

1Peter 1:22–25

When we hear the Scripture read, and especially when we hear it preached (v25), there is something eternal and powerful going on, something that outlasts this world.

God’s living and active and powerful Word is what the Spirit used to give us spiritual birth (v23). It will not and cannot fail in us, and it is the means by which also He sanctifies us (cf. Jn 17:17), working in us that fervent love for one another from pure hearts that v22 commands:

2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

1Peter 2:2–3

And where, especially are we nourished by this “pure milk of the Word” that gives the growing and maturing that we need as those who have been given spiritual birth? It happens where we come to the Lord as a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, who offer spiritual sacrifices. It happens in public worship!

Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

1Peter 2:4–5

Looking forward to growing together, by the pure milk of the Word, in this indestructible and glorious life that God has given us,

Pastor

Whst It's Like When Yahweh Is with You (Family Worship in Genesis 39)

What happens to you, and how do you respond, when the Lord is with you? Pastor leads his family in tomorrow’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these twenty-three verses, we learn that sometimes when the Lord is with you, you end up in things like hard circumstances, facing severe temptation, repeated temptation, false accusation, and wrongful imprisonment. But, by the Lord’s being with you by His grace, you can be diligent and faithful in those circumstances and consistently resist severe temptation.

2020.11.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 39

Read Genesis 39

Questions from the Scripture text: Where had Joseph been taken (Genesis 39:1)? Who bought him from whom? What position did the buyer have? Who was with Joseph (Genesis 39:2)? With what result? Where was Joseph? What did his master see about him in Genesis 39:3? What did Joseph “find” in Genesis 39:4? What did he end up doing (Genesis 39:4-5)? What does verse 5 emphasize as the cause of all the prospering? How much did Potiphar entrust to Joseph (Genesis 39:6)? What little comment does v6 make at the end? Who notices (Genesis 39:7)? What does she do? What does he say his master has given him (Genesis 39:8)? What does he say his master has withheld from him (Genesis 39:9)? Against whom does he say he would be sinning if he did this? When did she try this (Genesis 39:10)? How did he respond every time? Who is in the house with Joseph one day (Genesis 39:11)? Who catches him, how (Genesis 39:12)? What does she say? What does he do? What does she see in Genesis 39:13? Whom does she call (Genesis 39:14)? What does she say happened (Genesis 39:15)? What does she hang onto for how long (Genesis 39:16)? Whom does she tell what in Genesis 39:17-18? How did Potiphar feel about her telling this story (Genesis 39:19)? What did he do with joseph (Genesis 39:20)? Who was with Joseph there (Genesis 39:21)? In whose sight did He give him favor? What did the prison keeper entrust to Joseph (Genesis 39:22)? What didn’t the keeper of the prison look into (Genesis 39:23a)? Why not?

What does it look like when God is with you?

Well, sometimes it looks like getting sold into slavery, lied about, and wrongfully imprisoned. We may be tempted to say about someone, “God can’t possibly be with him, if all of that is happening to him.” But this chapter won’t allow us to think that. It doubly emphasizes that Yahweh is with Joseph at the beginning of the passage in Genesis 39:2 and Genesis 39:3, and then again that this has not changed by the end of the passage in Genesis 39:21 and Genesis 39:23.

The Lord being with you is often a fact that you need to know from Scripture (like we do about Joseph) in hard situations, which we too can know about ourselves if we are in Christ Jesus (cf. Romans 8:28–39). 

But there are some specific ways in which we can see the Lord with Joseph here. 

We can see that the Lord is with us in every positive detail of every situation, even such a thing as Joseph ending up a house slave. Not only would field slave be a death sentence, but knowing the end of the story, we know how important it was that Joseph be where he was.

We can see that the Lord is with us in God’s giving us faith to trust in Him. Even Joseph’s Egyptian master was able to “see” that these things were from Yahweh, Genesis 39:3. This is almost certainly because of Joseph’s conduct and conversation. Surely, to remain faithful in such circumstances was a result of the Lord being with him.

We can see that the Lord is with us in God’s giving us wisdom and making that wisdom successful. “Yahweh made all he did to prosper in his hand” (Genesis 39:3, cf. Genesis 39:23c). Whether we acknowledge Him or not, the Lord is the One who has to grant unto us the success in what we do. Genesis 39:3 states it plainly.

We can see that the Lord is with us in giving us favor in others’ sight (“found favor in his sight,” Genesis 39:4).

We can see that the Lord is with us in giving us whatever authority or influence we have (“all that he had he put under his authority,” verse 4). 

We can see that the Lord is with us in blessing even those around us for our sake (“Yahweh blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake,” Genesis 39:5). Notice how that verse refers to Potiphar as “the Egyptian.” God often blesses unbelievers for the sake of the believers around them. And, that’s because it is really and especially for Christ’s sake that the Lord is blessing believers.

Finally, we can especially see that the Lord is with us in keeping us from sin. Look at how easily Jacob slipped into depression, but there is such diligence and wisdom and care here from Joseph. How? The Lord was with him. Look at how easily Judah plunged into sexual sin, but Joseph absolutely refuses to do so under great pressure. How? The Lord was with him. The reason that we can walk with God at all, working out our own salvation with fear and trembling, is precisely because God is with us (cf. Philippians 2:12–13). 

What are some of the ways that you know and/or see that God is with you in your life right now?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH243 “How Firm a Foundation”


Friday, November 27, 2020

The Very Worst Thing to Do and Very Best Thing to Rejoice Over (Family Worship in Luke 10:1–24)

Who are worse than Sodom? Who are more blessed than the kings and prophets? Pastor leads his family in tomorrow's "Hopewell @Home" passage. In these twenty-four verses, we learn that the Lord uses and blesses nobodies—and especially that there is nothing worse to do than to reject Christ and nothing more worthy of rejoicing over than that the Lord has chosen to give us Christ by faith.

2020.11.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 10:1–24

Read Luke 10:1–24

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does Jesus appoint in Luke 10:1? In what groups are they sent? Before Whom/what? To which places? What does He say about the harvest (Luke 10:2)? About the laborers? To Whom did He say to pray? That He would do what? Who is doing this very thing in Luke 10:3? What does He call those whom He is sending? What does He call those among whom He sends them? What are they not to carry (Luke 10:4)? Whom are they to greet? What are they to enter (Luke 10:5)? What’s the first thing they are to do there? What either will or won’t happen at that point (Luke 10:6)? Where else should they stay in that town (Luke 10:7)? What should they do with the good things they’re given? Why? In which cities are they to operate this way (Luke 10:8)? What are they to do in/from that house (Luke 10:9), and what are they to say in connection with that healing? What might a city not do (Luke 10:10)? What are they to do/say about the dust of their feet (Luke 10:11)? What are they to say in connection with that judgment (verse 11b, cf. Luke 10:9b)? What does Jesus say about such cities in connection with Sodom (Luke 10:12)? Who have it worse than Tyre and Sidon (Luke 10:13-14)? Why (verse 13)? What is the current condition of Capernaum (Luke 10:15)? What will happen to them? Who are hearing Jesus? (Luke 10:16)? Who are rejecting Jesus? Who are rejecting the Father?  Who return in Luke 10:17? With what affection? What do they announce? What does Jesus say that He had seen (Luke 10:18)? What authority does Jesus say that He gives them in Luke 10:19? But what are they not to rejoice in (Luke 10:20)? What are they to rejoice in instead? In what/Whom does Jesus rejoice (Luke 10:21)? Whom does He thank? For not doing what? And for doing what? Who decided to do it this way? What has been given to Christ by Whom in Luke 10:22? Who alone truly knows Who the Son is? Who alone truly knows Who the Father is? But then Who else? To whom does Jesus speak in Luke 10:23? Whose eyes does He tell them are blessed? Who has desired to see and hear what they see and hear (Luke 10:24)?

The Lord Jesus here sends seventy nameless persons out with a commission with similar authority to what He had given the twelve in chapter 9. Thus, He makes even more emphasis that service to Him in His power is not reserved for just a few. No, not only are we all to pray for the Lord’s ministry to be carried out with power (Luke 10:2), but we should not be surprised when He powerfully uses nameless ones such as we are. Nor should we be surprised if we are devoured in His service (Luke 10:3). He has taught us to expect these things in Scripture and given us many examples like this one.

There are two main ideas in their sending out and coming back, which two are related: there is nothing worse than to slight and reject the gospel of Jesus Christ, and there is nothing better than to receive and respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

There is nothing worse than to reject the gospel of Jesus Christ. Sodom, Tyre, and Sidon are synonymous not only with greed, but with the worst immoralities. But the passage drives home that cities like Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum have received something superlative (“mighty works” done in them, and “exalted to heaven,” Luke 10:13Luke 10:15). 

Of those to whom much is given, much is required. And, it is going to be worse for the “decent” people of these Israelite towns on Galilee than even for Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom! Why? Because they are about to hear not just Christ, but His servants. And, they are eventually going to reject the message of His servants, which Jesus will judge as rejecting Him (cf. Luke 10:16). Believers sit under those whom Christ has sent with His message. When that message is faithfully preached, let them have great care regarding what they do with it. For, there is nothing worse than to reject the message of Jesus Christ.

And there is nothing better than to receive and respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ. How joyous the seventy were in Luke 10:17! Every Christian, in whatever calling the Lord has given us, is susceptible to being puffed up when the Lord gives us little successes. But this is not the first and great thing to rejoice over. Rather, we are to “rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).  Indeed, there were prophets who worked great miracles and kings who accomplished great kingdom victories (Luke 10:24a), but these seventy nameless ones got the blessing of seeing and hearing what all those others longed for.

Let us be rejoicing so much over belonging to Christ and seeing His gospel continue to go forth in the world that we are not so susceptible to being overly impressed with whatever successes the Lord personally gives us in our callings, but rather thankful. 

What opportunities do you have to respond to the Word? In what manner have you been doing so?

Suggested songs: ARP119W “Lord, Let My Cry before You Come” or TPH172 “Speak, O Lord”


Thursday, November 26, 2020

How Parents Are to Love Their Children (Family Worship in Eph 6:4)

What does Holy-Spirit-sustained parenting look like? Pastor leads his family in tomorrow's "Hopewell @Home" passage. In this verse, we find that loving our children most of all means making it as easy as possible for them to love and obey the Lord, and applying to them the means of the Lord's grace.

2020.11.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 6:4

Read Ephesians 6:4

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom is Ephesians 6:4 addressed? What are they told not to do? To whom? To what are they in danger of provoking their children? What are they to do to their children instead? By what two means/activities are fathers to bring their children up? Whose training and admonition? 

We are culpable before God for our reactions. Often, I have heard a parent imply having had grown-up temper tantrums by saying, “my children make me so angry!” No they don’t. Your children do what they do, and you respond with that intemperate anger. Even if anger is a righteous response, you have a duty to self-control, a duty to restrain unnecessary severity, etc.

But children aren’t parents. There is understanding that there is a duty of a parent to remember that the child is weaker, less mature, not having had as much training or instruction. Yes, the child is responsible for his response, but the parent is responsible for giving that child every possible advantage for producing the right response. If the child is wrathful, certainly he breaks the commandment “honor your father and mother.” 

And yet, there is much that a parent can do that will make a difference in whether the child becomes wrathful or not. Our children give us many opportunities to see and respond to the sin that comes out of their hearts. We need not invent more of them; indeed, here the Lord positively forbids it!

But if we’re going to give them every possible opportunity to obey the Lord, there is more that we need to do than just being gentle and kind and respectful, and being careful of being illegitimately demanding. They have an enemy to battle against, and that enemy is within them. If they are going to honor and obey us, it has to be done “in the Lord” as Ephesians 6:1 says. 

How can they do that? Training and instruction. But not just any training and instruction. Even an animal can be trained through discipline and instruction. But that animal doesn’t have a sinful nature. Your child is up against infinitely more. 

Thankfully, your child has been blessed with infinitely better help than those animals. It’s the discipline of the Lord! It’s the instruction of the Lord! Job number one in not provoking your children to wrath is the means of grace in the congregation, week by week, and the means of grace in the home, day by day. 

And this includes all-day, every-day application of the Scriptures to everything they see and everything they do. God’s words need to be on your own heart, controlling your own life (Deuteronomy 6:4–6), then they need to be in your mouth and their ears continually (Deuteronomy 6:7), in away that shapes how they do everything (Deuteronomy 6:8a) and how they see everything (verse 6:8b), so that the family name on the mailbox and front door could read, “Scripture-saturated Family” (Deuteronomy 6:9).

Wrath is part of the folly in your child’s heart. But, the reason the rod of Proverbs 22:15 drives it far from him is that it’s the rod of reproof—it’s a rod that comes in the context of a life lived in the means of grace, provided and prospered by a Redeemer of astounding love and abundant grace.

He has laid out the equipment for combatting the source of wrath in the heart of your child. And, He has laid upon you the charge both of using that equipment and of not making yourself the occasion for provoking that wrath, if you can righteously avoid it.

What more/better use could you make of the means of grace for the children of your home and your congregation? What are some situations in which you could be less an occasion of their wrath?

Suggested songs: ARP128 “How Blessed Are All Who Fear the Lord” or TPH548 “Oh, Blest the House”

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Praise for Salvation against a Backdrop of Wrath (2020.11.25 Prayer Lesson in Rev 7:9–12)

In between the 6th and 7th seal, all of heaven praises God and the Lamb for saving wrath-deserving sinners.

Keeping a Tender Conscience by Trust in God (Family Worship in 1Sam 24)

Why doesn't David do the easy thing and kill Saul? Pastor leads his family in tomorrow's "Hopewell @Home" passage. In these twenty-two verses, we find that instead of smiting Saul, David's tender conscience smites him; because, instead of fearing what Saul may do, David trusts what the Lord will surely do.

2020.11.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Samuel 24

Read 1 Samuel 24

Questions from the Scripture text: From what had Saul returned in 1 Samuel 24:1? What was told him? Whom did he take with him in 1 Samuel 24:2? To do what? To where does Saul come in 1 Samuel 24:3? Where does he go to do what? Who else is in there? What do David’s men say to him in 1 Samuel 24:4? What does David do? But what happens to David in 1 Samuel 24:5? To whom does he speak in 1 Samuel 24:6? What does he say about his situation, and how does this compare to what they had said in 1 Samuel 24:4? What did David do to his servants in 1 Samuel 24:7? What does Saul do? Where does David go in 1 Samuel 24:8? What does he call Saul? What does David do when Saul looks back? What does David now ask (1 Samuel 24:9)? What does he point out in 1 Samuel 24:10? What does he call Saul now in 1 Samuel 24:11? What does he point out about his own actions? What does he point out about Saul’s actions? Upon Whom does David call to set things right (1 Samuel 24:12)? What does he promise about his own hand? What does he quote in 1 Samuel 24:13 (cf. Proverbs 20:11)? What does he call Saul in 1 Samuel 24:14? What does he call himself? Again, upon Whom does he call to vindicate and deliver him (1 Samuel 24:15)? What does Saul now call David in 1 Samuel 24:16? What does Saul do? What does he say about David in comparison to himself (1 Samuel 24:17)? Upon what basis? Whom does Saul say delivered him into David’s hand (1 Samuel 24:18, cf. 1 Samuel 24:4)? What does Saul now acknowledge that David is not (1 Samuel 24:18-19)? What does Saul say, in 1 Samuel 24:20, that he surely knows? What does he say will happen to Israel? What does he ask David to swear (1 Samuel 24:21)? What does David do (1 Samuel 24:22)? Where does Saul go? Where does David go?

“This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice, and kill Saul in it!” So might have sung the men of David in v4. Indeed, the Lord had promised to David that he would be king, and the question of how that promise might or might not get answered is on people’s minds (cf. 1 Samuel 24:20).

But that’s not the question that should have been on David’s mind, and it’s not the question that the Spirit places on our minds in this chapter. No, that question is: “will David try to compel God’s promise, or will he rather comply with God’s precepts?”

At first David listens to his men. He’s got the fabric to prove it at the end of v4. But thankfully, he doesn’t smite Saul. Instead, his heart smites (literal translation of 1 Samuel 24:5) him. David didn’t even kill Saul, and he’s still remorseful for doing as much as he did do. Praise God! And just in time, because he has to give his men the theological reasoning (1 Samuel 24:6) by which he restrains them from finishing the job (1 Samuel 24:7).

But then David becomes an example of Christ for the Christian. Do not repay evil for evil, but overcome evil with good; leave room for the vengeance of the Lord (1 Samuel 24:17, cf. Romans 12:17–21, 1 Peter 2:20–25). Rather than prove himself the enemy that Saul suspected (cf. 1 Samuel 24:131 Samuel 24:17-19), David has shown himself the son that Saul has betrayed (cf. 1 Samuel 24:111 Samuel 24:16). 

The key to keeping your head like this, forgiving like this, and restraining yourself like this is to trust that the Lord is in control, and that He takes seriously, and judges, and responds to the things that men do. So David won’t touch Saul because Saul is the Lord’s anointed (1 Samuel 24:6). And David is content to let the Lord judge Saul (1 Samuel 24:12a), so he doesn’t need to avenge himself on Saul (verse 12b). And David is content to let the Lord judge himself (1 Samuel 24:15a), and entrust both his case and his deliverance to the Lord (verse 15b). 

Even Saul learns to talk this way, at least for a moment (1 Samuel 24:19-21). David doesn’t put much stock in it; rather than go home to be son-in-law, he and his men go back up to the stronghold (1 Samuel 24:22). Will the language of God judging, controlling, avenging, and rewarding be just a way of talking that we use around others who talk the same way? Or will it control what we do so that our heart smites us when we do wrong, and we are enabled by trust in God to overcome evil with good?

Who has been giving you the “opportunity” to bless the one cursing you and do good to the one abusing you?

Suggested songs: ARP109A “God of My Praise” or TPH256 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Worthy in Jesus and Dressed Worthily by Jesus (Family Worship in Matt 22:1–14)

What does it mean that “many are called, but few are chosen”? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these fourteen verses, we learn that though many hear the gospel preached, no one is worthy of its blessings. Christ alone can be our worthiness. And, each one for whom He is our worthiness, also receives the blessing of being dressed worthily by Christ for that blessedness. Jesus earns our heaven for us. And Jesus outfits us for the heaven that He has earned for us. Anyone who is missing one of these is missing both of them, because both come in the same Christ in Whom the saved were chosen.

2020.11.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 22:1–14

Read Matthew 22:1–14

Questions from the Scripture text: How was Jesus speaking to them (Matthew 22:1)? What is this parable describing (Matthew 22:2)? What has the king arranged for his son? What is Jesus using this marriage to describe? Whom does the king send out in Matthew 22:3? Whom are they to call? But with what result? Whom does the king send out in Matthew 22:4? What does he tell them to say? How do they respond in Matthew 22:5? To what do they go instead? How do others respond in Matthew 22:6? What do they do? Who hears about this (Matthew 22:7)? How does he respond to this, and what does he do? What is the situation in Matthew 22:8? What does he say was wrong with those originally invited? Where does the king send them to invite guests now (Matthew 22:9)? Whom do they gather (Matthew 22:10)? Now what is the condition of the wedding hall? But what does the king see in Matthew 22:11? What does the king ask him in Matthew 22:12? How does the man respond? What does the king say to do in Matthew 22:13? Into where is the garment-less man cast? What is Jesus’s summary (Matthew 22:14) of why the first invitees, and also the garmentless man, were destroyed?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Matthew 22:1–14, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place.

Either destroyed in wrath outside or blessed in the marriage of the Son. Those are the only two outcomes that people have in this parable. There’s no neutral location to end up. The non-blessed outcomes in the passage are either being destroyed and burned (Matthew 22:7) or outer darkness in weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 22:13). That means that it’s extremely important to know: how can you end up in the blessed group? 

You would think that the answer is to be worthy. But all those who receive invitations initially are unworthy (end of Matthew 22:8). They show their unworthiness first by lack of interest in the kingdom (Matthew 22:3), then by positively making light of the kingdom (Matthew 22:5), and in some cases even abusing and killing the servants of the kingdom (Matthew 22:6).

So, are the ones who end up inside worthy? Well, they may be made worthy by the garments that are given to them, but they obviously did not have these garments from themselves. We know this because of where they are found (Matthew 22:9Matthew 22:10). They are not there because of their worthiness. But, the ones who are properly there are all made worthy. Matthew 22:11-12 shows not that you can “get into heaven then kicked out” but rather that there is a requisite holiness that God gives to all whom He brings to heaven. “Without holiness we will not see the Lord” (cf. Hebrews 12:14). 

Ultimately, the point of the parable is not difficult, because Jesus brackets the whole thing by telling us just what that point is: “The kingdom of heaven is like” (Matthew 22:2)… “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). 

That is to say: God does much inviting of unworthy people to heaven, but it is only those whom He chooses to give the ability to respond rightly, and the proper outfitting for glory, who will enjoy His glorious blessing instead of enduring His glorious wrath.

For you, there are many important applications here: Abandon all illusions of your own worthiness. Guard your heart against being over-impressed with your property and tasks in this world, or under-impressed with communion with God and service to Him. Know the danger of transferring resistance to God’s Word onto resistance to God’s messenger. Trust only in Christ as your worthiness, but pursue holiness to be made fit for that for which He is worthy. Pursue that holiness in dependence upon Him. Be sure that whether or not you belong to Jesus is infinitely more important than anything else for you. Treat other people as if it is the most infinitely important thing for them as well. And, rejoice that even though absolutely none of us is worthy, He still chooses to save from among the many who hear the call.

If you go to heaven, how will you have gotten there? What will He have done for/to you to get you there?

Suggested songs: ARP4 “Answer When I Call” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place”


Monday, November 23, 2020

Who Christian Children Are and What Christian Children Do (2020.11.22 Evening Sermon in Ephesians 6:1–3)

Children are counted among the saints. Children are expected to be in worship; the worship is for them just as for others. Children must obey their parents. Children are expected to care about the Lord. Children are expected to care about what is right. Children are expected to obey from the heart. It is not merely a manner of complying but of honoring. Children are expected to prioritize obedience to parents. Children are expected to keep the commandments. Children should expect God to bless them.

Day of Worship 9, Legalism (2020.11.22 Sabbath School)

Sabbath School lesson in Ryan McGraw's "The Day of Worship." In Chapter 9, we consider what legalism is and what legalism isn't.

A True Savior for Terrible Sinners (2020.11.22 Morning Sermon in Genesis 38)



God's redemption is for great sinners, in order that it may display His even greater grace. For such terrible sinners as we are, there is a true Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!

2020.11.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 38

Read Genesis 38

Questions from the Scripture text: With info about whom does Genesis 38:1 interrupt the Joseph story? Whom does he leave? To whom does he go? Whom does he see in Genesis 38:2? What does he do with her? Whom does she bear him in Genesis 38:3-5? Now what happens in Genesis 38:6? What was Judah’s firstborn like (Genesis 38:7)? Who did what to him? What did Judah tell whom to do in Genesis 38:8? Why did Onan make sure not to actually father a child (Genesis 38:9)? What did the Lord think of this (Genesis 38:10)? And what did He do? What does Judah tell Tamar to do now in Genesis 38:11? Why didn’t he want her to marry Shelah? What happens in Genesis 38:12? Where does Judah go? Who was there, doing what? Who finds out (Genesis 38:13)? What does she do, and where does she go (Genesis 38:14)? Why? What does Judah think she is (Genesis 38:15)? Why was he willing to be wicked with her (Genesis 38:16)? What did he promise to her in return for being wicked (Genesis 38:17)? Since this is in the future, what does she demand now (Genesis 38:18)? Once she has become pregnant from Judah, where does Tamar go, and what does she do in Genesis 38:19? Whom does Judah send to get his signet, cord, and staff back (Genesis 38:20)? What happens with the Adullamite’s harlot search in Genesis 38:21-22? Why isn’t Judah willing to let even more people know that he is looking for the harlot (Genesis 38:23)? What does Judah now find out in Genesis 38:24? What does he demand to happen? What does Tamar present in Genesis 38:25? What does Judah admit in Genesis 38:26? What do they find out at the birth in Genesis 38:27? What does the midwife do in Genesis 38:28? But who comes out first (Genesis 38:29)? And who second (Genesis 38:30)?

Oh how dreadful is Judah’s fall! He leaves the covenant community that has been limited by the grief of his father (Genesis 38:1a), and proceeds to repeat the intermarriage error of Genesis 6:1–7, with similarly dreadful effects. His sons are so wicked that the Lord keeps striking them down in judgment, as if to say from heaven about each of them what Judah says about himself in Genesis 38:26: they’re even more wicked than this Canaanite woman Tamar.

And we know she’s wicked. Wicked enough that the proper response to her actions is that she be executed (cf. Leviticus 21:9; Deuteronomy 22:21). But in this case, she’s the least wicked one in the lot. We’ve seen his fathers commit sins like the lie in Genesis 38:11 (cf. Genesis 38:14) and self-righteousness in Genesis 38:24. But Judah is not even following even in the good footsteps of his deeply flawed fathers. There’s no mention of him building altars or worshiping. To their adulterous marriages, he now adds joining himself to a prostitute, and even worse in his ignorance.

Here is great wickedness! But against this backdrop, we marvel to see God’s even greater grace. God’s grace gives the repentance in Genesis 38:26. God’s grace gives children when there would be no other opportunity (Genesis 38:26-27, cf. 1 Chronicles 2:5). God’s grace that is free, according to His pleasure (chooses Perez, not Er or Zerah).

But ultimately, God’s grace gives Jesus Christ. This is the line of Jesus Christ! And He is the reason that God forgives even sinners like Judah and Tamar through faith in Him, and is with sinners such as Joseph (cf. chapter 39) to keep them from sins like Judah’s and sustain them in righteousness. 

What kind of people does Jesus save? About whom do you need reminding that God can save?

Suggested songs: ARP130 “Lord, from the Depths to You I Cried” or TPH340 “There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood” 

Saturday, November 21, 2020

2020.11.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 38

Read Genesis 38

Questions from the Scripture text: With info about whom does Genesis 38:1 interrupt the Joseph story? Whom does he leave? To whom does he go? Whom does he see in Genesis 38:2? What does he do with her? Whom does she bear him in Genesis 38:3-5? Now what happens in Genesis 38:6? What was Judah’s firstborn like (Genesis 38:7)? Who did what to him? What did Judah tell whom to do in Genesis 38:8? Why did Onan make sure not to actually father a child (Genesis 38:9)? What did the Lord think of this (Genesis 38:10)? And what did He do? What does Judah tell Tamar to do now in Genesis 38:11? Why didn’t he want her to marry Shelah? What happens in Genesis 38:12? Where does Judah go? Who was there, doing what? Who finds out (Genesis 38:13)? What does she do, and where does she go (Genesis 38:14)? Why? What does Judah think she is (Genesis 38:15)? Why was he willing to be wicked with her (Genesis 38:16)? What did he promise to her in return for being wicked (Genesis 38:17)? Since this is in the future, what does she demand now (Genesis 38:18)? Once she has become pregnant from Judah, where does Tamar go, and what does she do in Genesis 38:19? Whom does Judah send to get his signet, cord, and staff back (Genesis 38:20)? What happens with the Adullamite’s harlot search in Genesis 38:21-22? Why isn’t Judah willing to let even more people know that he is looking for the harlot (Genesis 38:23)? What does Judah now find out in Genesis 38:24? What does he demand to happen? What does Tamar present in Genesis 38:25? What does Judah admit in Genesis 38:26? What do they find out at the birth in Genesis 38:27? What does the midwife do in Genesis 38:28? But who comes out first (Genesis 38:29)? And who second (Genesis 38:30)?

Wow. What a mess! It’s amazing how often we have to say that about God’s people. Judah leaves the covenant people. He marries a Canaanite. He has wicked boys that Yahweh hates and kills. He gets a Canaanite wife for one of them. She, of course, acts like… surprise… a Canaanite. He, also, acts like a Canaanite. In fact, he’s even worse than she is (Genesis 38:26). Why is this passage even here?

First, Judah in chapter 38 is a comparison to Joseph in chapter 39. Judah has wealth and ease, but he commits scandalous sin. Joseph is sold into slavery, tempted, entrapped, lied about, unjustly imprisoned, forgotten. And despite all of that, he maintains exemplary faithfulness to God. The theme there will be that Yahweh was with Joseph. The theme here is: “there, but for the grace of God go we.”

Second, this is Jesus’s family tree! Judah, Perez, and even Tamar are mentioned in the blessing upon Boaz in Ruth 4:12, leading up to the genealogy of David in Ruth 4:18. Judah, Perez, Zerah, and Tamar are all mentioned in Jesus’s genealogy in Matthew 1:3. Here, by the grace of God, are those through whom the Christ comes into the world to save. What a glorious, gracious God, Who alone is good and glorious to save!

Where are you most needy of grace to keep you faithful? What hope do you have to be useful to God? 

Suggested songs: ARP130 “Lord, from the Depths to You I Cried” or TPH429 “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”


Friday, November 20, 2020

Assured of Christ's Covenant Benefits and Our Covenant Obligations (2020.11.15 Lord's Supper Table Lesson)



What help is there for believers whose confidence in God's plan for them wanes? The Lord has always given His people signs and seals to shore up their faith in Him and His promises. In showing forth the Lord's death to us, the supper is designed to nourish us upon Him for this strength and to affirm to us His commitment to give us everything for which He died, and renew His call upon us to walk with Him as He has covenanted with us that we should walk.

5 Prayer Lessons from the 5th Seal (201118 Prayer Lesson in Rev 6:9–11)

Pray with your soul. Pray for God's justice and vengeance. Be comforted by (and pray for) the gift of holiness. Pray for the salvation of sinners. Pray for persecuted believers, and especially those who will be martyred.

2020.11.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 9:57–62

Read Luke 9:57–62

Questions from the Scripture text: Where were they journeying (Luke 9:57, cf. Luke 9:51)? What did someone say to Him? What did Jesus say foxes and birds have (Luke 9:58)? What does Jesus call Himself? What does He not have? Who initiates the interaction in Luke 9:59? What does He say to do? What does the man answer? How does Jesus respond to this request (Luke 9:60)? How does He now describe what following Him means for the man to do? What does another say (Luke 9:61)? But what does he want to do first? What does Jesus call this request (Luke 9:62)? What does He say about the one making it?

The Lord Jesus has set His face to Jerusalem (cf. Luke 9:51Luke 9:53). The well-sounding words of followers in Luke 9:57Luke 9:61 probably take into account that He is going to confront trouble, but not that He is going to be crucified. It is easy to have a much nobler idea of what it will be like to follow Christ. But following Jesus often means hardship. One may be called to go without even basic comforts that animals enjoy.

And, following Jesus sometimes means being called to immediate, inconvenient obedience. In the parallel passage in Matthew, Jesus has already given the command to depart in Matthew 8:18. So, the “request” in Luke 9:59b is really an excuse for disobedience. The fact that it is “the dead” who will do the burying in Luke 9:60 implies that spiritual death is in view there. So, it may well be that another reason why these two things are in conflict is that the father from Luke 9:59 has elected not to follow Christ. In either case, it is helpful to note that the call in Luke 9:60 is not the general call to be a Christian but a specific call to a preaching ministry.

Finally, following Jesus means prioritizing faithfulness over pleasantries. It doesn’t mean being impolite, but it sometimes does mean giving up participation in social circles. It’s significant that Jesus compares belonging to the kingdom as “putting the hand to the plow.” The Christian life is hard work, and sometimes being part of this “working class’ means not getting to be as social as the world expects of us.

Following Jesus is only glamorous if you consider Jesus Himself, and serving Him, to be glamorous.

What have you given up to follow Jesus? What are you willing to give up? What do you need to give up?

Suggested songs: ARP45A “My Heart Is Greatly Stirred” or TPH375 “All Hail the Power of Jesus’s Name”


Thursday, November 19, 2020

2020.11.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 6:1–3

Read Ephesians 6:1–3

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does Ephesians 6:1 address? What does the apostle say for them to do? In Whom? Why? What commandment does Ephesians 6:2 repeat? What does it point out about this commandment? What promise does Ephesians 6:3 paraphrase, and how does it expand upon it (cf. Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16).

Children are counted among the saints. The apostle addressed this letter to “the saints” in Ephesus (Ephesians 1:4). Now in between the wives and husbands on the one side; and the fathers, slaves, and masters on the other; he addresses the children.

Children are expected to be in worship; the worship is for them just as for others. The apostle is assuming that when this letter is read in the church, children will be there; so, he addresses them directly. When the church has a lower expectation of children than it does of others, for their attention and response in the public worship, it communicates that worship is not important, not beneficial, and not for everyone. What a dreadful thing! No wonder that so many children from such churches cannot be found in biblical worship services when they are older.

Children must obey their parents. This is an apostolic command. The verb means something like to hear as someone who is under them. “I didn’t hear you” is not a good excuse but a self-accusation. This is a command to pay good attention when spoken to, so that you can do what you are being told.

Children are expected to care about the Lord. Obey your parents (both of them!) “in the Lord.” The children are children who belong to the Lord. The parents are parents who have been placed by the Lord and belong to the Lord. The parents’ commands are presumed to be (and ought to be!) consistent with the Word of the Lord. And, as we have been learning about Christian living throughout the book, this obedience is something that can only be done by the grace of the Lord in the child’s heart. And all of this is to be done unto the glory of the Lord.

Children are expected to care about what is right. “For this is right” should be an argument that carries sway with children in a Christian home.

Children are expected to obey from the heart. It is not merely a manner of complying but of honoring. Later, when they are out of the home, and especially when marriage has become their primary relationship in life (cf. Ephesians 5:31), honoring will take another form. But as long as you’re a child in the home, honoring means obeying.

Children are expected to prioritize obedience to parents. This is the only commandment of the ten with a promise. The apostle’s calling it “the first” is probably a reference to the fact that the children’s obedience to all the other commandments begins with obeying their Christian parents. Obedience to parents is the nursery in which keeping the other commandments grows.

Children are expected to keep the commandments. It is worth pointing out that Ephesians 6:2 reinforces the Scriptural teaching that the commandments are still obligatory in the Christian life. Christ’s keeping them in our behalf is reckoned to our legal record with God, but this does not take away the requirement to keep them.

Children should expect God to bless them. Notice that the promise is broadened from the promised land to the earth. The old promise has not been taken away; it just has been swallowed up in the promise of a much greater blessing.

What commands of your parents are you having the most difficulty obeying? What are some things, from these verses, of which you could remind yourself in order better to keep these commands?

Suggested songs: ARP119B “How Can the Young Man Cleanse His Way?” or TPH119B “How Shall the Young Direct Their Way?”


Wednesday, November 18, 2020

2020.11.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Samuel 23:14–28

Read 1 Samuel 23:14–28

Questions from the Scripture text: Where did David stay and remain (1 Samuel 23:14)? What happened every day? Why wasn’t he successful? What could David see while this was happening (1 Samuel 23:15)? Who was able to find David (1 Samuel 23:16)? What did he do? How? What did he tell David not to do (1 Samuel 23:17)? Why not? Who else knew that David would be king above Jonathan? What did the two of them cut (make, 1 Samuel 23:18)? Who went where? Who came to whom where in 1 Samuel 23:19? What did they report? What did they tell Saul to do (1 Samuel 23:20)? What did they say they would do? What kind of language does Saul use in his response (1 Samuel 23:21)? What does he ask them to do (1 Samuel 23:22-23)? What boast does he make at the end of 1 Samuel 23:23? Where did they go, but where had David gone (1 Samuel 23:24)? How did he know to go there (1 Samuel 23:25)? How was Saul closing in (1 Samuel 23:26)? What stopped him (1 Samuel 23:27-28)? What did they call the rock where this happened? 

Sinners are so good at deceiving themselves. 1 Samuel 23:21, right at the heart of this passage is astonishing: Saul, pronouncing blessing in the name of Yahweh, and talking about compassion. And then he follows that up with talking about how crafty David is. How dreadful to be so blinded by devotion to oneself! But the only antidote to it is for us to be so devoted to God that we are suspicious even of ourselves.

But thinking ourselves righteous and others wicked, when we’re really just serving our own interests, isn’t the only kind of self-deception.

Sometimes, we get hung up on our circumstances more than trusting in God’s Word or in His favor toward us in Christ. In events where we are tempted to feel like everything is against Jacob, the Holy Spirit repeatedly reminds us that God is with him.

“God did not deliver [David] into [Saul’s] hand” (1 Samuel 23:14). Foolish Ziphites, who think in 1 Samuel 23:20 to overcome the living God in this!

“[Jonathan] strengthened [David’s] hand in God” (1 Samuel 23:16). What a strengthening thing it was that Saul’s own son bound himself to David by covenant! But Jonathan knew that there was something that would be even more strengthening to David: the remembrance and reality of the goodness and mercy of God to him!

Finally, as the noose tightens around David at the end of 1 Samuel 23:26, the messenger conveniently arrives. Some days or weeks before, wheels of Philistine invasion were set into motion so that just as Saul approached the rock behind which David hid, he would have to give up chasing God’s servant to go chase God’s enemies. From then on, that rock would be called “the Rock of Escape.”

So, let us always remember that God is for us, and the hearts of Philistine kings are in His hands like water to direct wherever He wills. And, let us serve Him with all our hearts, that we might be protected from the self-righteousness that can so easily mask envy and spite.

Over whose enmity are you tempted to obsess? In what situation do you need reminded that God is for you? 

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH256 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

How Jesus Makes Disciples by His Power and Presence (Family Worship in Mat 28:18–20)

What does the Lord Jesus do with all the authority in heaven and earth, which He has received? Pastor leads his family in tomorrow’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these three verses, we find that Jesus is building His church out of living stones called “disciples,” whom He makes through sacrament (baptism) and Word. Baptism declares that we are His, and so we must believe all that He teaches and observe all that He commands. And baptism declares that He is ours, so we may be sure that we have His power and presence to accomplish this in us until this work is done.

2020.11.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 28:18–20

Read Matthew 28:18–20

Questions from the Scripture text: Who came and spoke to them? How much authority has been given to Him? Which authority has been given to Him? What are they to make, therefore? By what two actions are disciples made? Into what single name are they baptized? What are they taught to do with Jesus’s commands? How many of them? Who is with them always, as they make disciples? Even until when? 

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Matthew 28:18–20, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with All Authority and Power.

This is commonly called the great commission, but we can see from the beginning of the passage that it is Jesus’ great mission. It is, after all, what Jesus does with all of the authority in heaven and on earth.

What would you do with all of the authority in heaven and on earth? What Jesus does is sustain His disciples in making disciples. This is what disciples do: make disciples.

There are two things that Jesus commands here for making a disciple. The first is baptizing. Mark them as belonging to Him. Notice the singular name (not here plural, as three names, but singular as one tri-fold name): the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Triune God puts His name upon someone to make that person a disciple.

But they are made disciples not only by baptizing but by teaching. Again, let us notice something very subtle: it is not merely the commandments of Christ that are being taught here. This is not something that can be fulfilled in a classroom. Rather, it is the observation of the commands that is to be taught. This is not merely a way of thinking, but a way of life.

So—Jesus declares His authority, tells them what He wants them to do under that authority, and leaves them to get to it? No, no, no! Just as the commission is Jesus’s mission that He pursues by His authority, so also the success of the baptizing and teaching relies not upon themselves but upon Him.

This is one great reason why it’s so glorious when we see the fruit of one’s baptism and instruction—that he who receives the mark of Christ begins more and more to live His life according to the commands of Christ. It’s glorious because Jesus highlights this fruitfulness as indicative of the fact that He is STILL with His church.

Week by week, month by month, Jesus announces, “I am STILL with my church!” A covenant child professes his faith, and Jesus announces, “I am STILL with my church.” A father learns to lead his family, and Jesus announces, “I am STILL with my church.” A woman overcomes her habitual gossip, and Jesus announces, “I am STILL with my church.” An elderly widower serves others in peace and joy, and Jesus announces, “I am STILL with my church.” 

Where are you currently growing? What is Jesus still with you to help you do?

Suggested songs: ARP180 “Christ Shall Have Dominion” or TPH424 “All Authority and Power”


Monday, November 16, 2020

Learning How to Love Your Wife from the Love of Christ for His Bride and Body (2020.11.15 Evening Sermon in Ephesians 5:25–33)

The sermon that we all wish we (or our husband) had heard earlier, and want our children (and their future spouse) to assimilate now. The apostle describes the love of Christ for His bride—who is to Him as His own flesh and bone—as the template for the Christian husband's proper love for his wife.

Day of Worship 8, Some General Practical Observations (2020.11.15 Sabbath School lesson)

Sabbath School lesson in Ryan McGraw's "The Day of Worship." In Chapter 8, we consider some practical observations... general principles that come from the nature of the commandment and must guide specific applications, along with some example applications that are consequently necessary inferences from these principles.

Trusting Only in Christ, Because We Can Neither Save nor See (2020.11.16 Morning Sermon in Genesis 37:12–36)



We are unable to make our plans come about, or even to see with full completeness or accuracy what is happening in our circumstances. This is a dreadful truth for the unbeliever, for things are infinitely worse for them than they imagine. But, we may trust in Christ, Who powerfully brings about all of His perfect plan, according to His perfect wisdom and steadfast love. So, we may live with confidence in all that He has planned, and unswerving commitment to all that He has commanded.

2020.11.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 37:12–36

Read Genesis 37:12–36

Questions from the Scripture text: Where did who go in Genesis 37:12? Who sends whom to them (Genesis 37:13)? What did Israel want (Genesis 37:14)? What difficulty/delay does Joseph have to navigate (Genesis 37:15-17)? Who sees whom first (Genesis 37:18)? What do they decide to do (Genesis 37:18-20)? Who hears it (Genesis 37:21)? What does he do? What does he say? What alternative plan does he propose in Genesis 37:22? What do they add to the plan in Genesis 37:23-24? What do they do with Joseph in the pit? What do they see (Genesis 37:25)? Who proposes a change now (Genesis 37:26)? What problem does he propose with the original plan? What does he suggest to do instead (Genesis 37:27)? What do they end up doing (Genesis 37:28)? Who returns in Genesis 37:29? What does he see? What does he do? Whom does he ask what in Genesis 37:30? What do they do now (Genesis 37:31, cf. Genesis 37:20)? Whom do they ask what in Genesis 37:32)? What does he determine has happened (Genesis 37:33)? How does he respond (Genesis 37:34)? Who rise to do what in Genesis 37:35? How does he respond? What details does Genesis 37:36 give against the backdrop of the mourning in verse 35? 

We need to be humble about our plans. Jacob plans to get a report about the brothers. That plan fails. Reuben plans to save Joseph out of his brothers’ hands. That plan fails. The brothers plan to kill Joseph by the hand of the Ishmaelites. That plan fails.

God’s purpose and plan always succeeds, but what He has called us to is to be faithful. It’s not “well done My good and visionary servant” or “well done My good and successful servant” but “well done My good and faithful servant.” Everyone is trying to control things that they can’t; but as we’ll see in chapter 39, the main thing that God is “with us” for is that we would be faithful—even in the hardest of circumstances.

We need to be humble about our perception. Looking at the Ishmaelites carrying Joseph away, the brothers’ perception is that they have ended any hope of Joseph’s dreams being fulfilled. Looking at the blood-stained garment in his hands, Jacob’s perception is that Joseph has come to a brutal end, and that he himself cannot (indeed refuses to) be comforted—wrong on both counts.

The secret things belong to God. Not only are we unable to perceive God’s ordained plan; we cannot even see the full truth about our (and others’) present circumstances.

We need to have confidence and joy in God’s plan and perception. Of course, this is not true for unbelievers. His plans are against them, and things are infinitely worse for them than they can perceive! But, reading this backwards through the lens of Christ, we can see more even than the amazing wisdom of God for the life of Joseph; we can see the ultimate, history-defining-and-determining wisdom of God to bring salvation to sinners in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

If we are trusting in Christ, then we can have Romans 8 confidence and joy reinforced to us by Genesis 37: all things are working together for our good; God has given us all things together with Christ; we are super-conquerors in all these things through Him who loved us; and, nothing can separate us from His love!

In what primary roles are you currently called to be faithful? What current circumstances are perplexing you?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH413 “Revive Thy Work, O Lord”


Saturday, November 14, 2020

Intergenerational Fellowship for Discipleship, Lord's Day Prep, etc. (2020.11.14 Hopewell Herald)

Hopewell Herald – November 14, 2020

Dear Congregation,

I’ve been thinking a lot about our covenant children this week, preparing the devotional (and evening sermon for the 22nd) from Ephesians 6:1–3. How blessed we are in them! How high is God’s calling upon them! How great is God’s grace to them!

And we greatly desire that grace for them; how very much they need it, since they have us for parents. Thankfully, God’s grace toward us as parents is also great, which we need, since He has assigned unto us their training and instruction.

As I think about the task before us, there are a couple texts from Proverbs that keep coming to mind.

“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.”
Proverbs 13:20

“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him.”
Proverbs 22:15

If we recognize that our children are recovering fools, we should be eager for them to walk with the wise. Are we helping them take advantage of opportunities to spend time with wiser saints?

One way of doing so would be keeping families together more during fellowship times—not as a rigid rule, but as a general strategy—so that they are drawn into the fellowship that the dads and moms are having. Another way of doing so is encouraging them to target specific older, mature saints with whom to build a relationship week by week. It's a joy to see some families/children already taking these approaches, and it would do us well to see more of it.

Of course, it’d be a pretty heavy burden to lay this duty upon them. If the families and the older saints don’t seek them out, then we’ll likely find defacto children’s-group and youth-group pockets forming here and there during our fellowship times. And we wouldn’t be able to fault them for it.

Ultimately, the most important thing for them is to attend well upon God’s own appointed means by which He works His grace. First and foremost: Word, sacrament, and prayer in the public worship. Second, the discipline and instruction of the Lord from dad and mom in the home, especially as it flows out of and into family worship.

But, there is also that mutual strengthening in intentional congregational fellowship that we have been learning about in Ephesians 4–5. Of course, it’s something that they can do to some extent with one another, but it is especially upon us to be modeling it for them as we do it with them.

Looking forward to tomorrow’s portion of growing up together into Christ our Head,

Pastor

Heavenly Training in Prayer of Adoration (2020.11.11 Prayer Meeting Devotional in Revelation 5:9–14)

It's discouraging to come to adore God in prayer and be unable to find the words. By noting some patterns in the prayers of adoration in glory from Revelation 5, we may arm ourselves with a number of things to reflect upon in order to adore the Lord well in prayer.

2020.11.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 37:12–36

Read Genesis 37:12–36

Questions from the Scripture text: Where did who go in Genesis 37:12? Who sends whom to them (Genesis 37:13)? What did Israel want (Genesis 37:14)? What difficulty/delay does Joseph have to navigate (Genesis 37:15-17)? Who sees whom first (Genesis 37:18)? What do they decide to do (Genesis 37:18-20)? Who hears it (Genesis 37:21)? What does he do? What does he say? What alternative plan does he propose in Genesis 37:22? What do they add to the plan in Genesis 37:23-24? What do they do with Joseph in the pit ? What do they see (Genesis 37:25)? Who proposes a change now (Genesis 37:26)? What problem does he propose with the original plan? What does he suggest to do instead (Genesis 37:27)? What do they end up doing (Genesis 37:28)? Who returns in Genesis 37:29? What does he see? What does he do? Whom does he ask what in Genesis 37:30? What do they do now (Genesis 37:31, cf. Genesis 37:20)? Whom do they ask what in Genesis 37:32)? What does he determine has happened (Genesis 37:33)? How does he respond (Genesis 37:34)? Who rise to do what in Genesis 37:35? How does he respond? What details does Genesis 37:36 give against the backdrop of the mourning in verse 35?

This passage gives us several clues to point us to the limitations of man.

First, man cannot stop the purpose of God. By their calling Joseph “dreamer” in Genesis 37:19 and laying down the challenge in Genesis 37:20, “We shall see what will become of his dreams!” the brothers establish the challenge. Little do they know that they are actually being used by God to fulfill the very dreams they are trying to thwart! You cannot stop God’s plans for you or anyone else. No one else can stop God’s plans for you. 

Second, man cannot save in the place of God. Genesis 37:21 tells us “Reuben delivered him out of their hands.” And Genesis 37:22 explains what he said by saying “that he might deliver him out of their hands.” But, Reuben cannot save in the place of God, as testified by his torn garments in Genesis 37:29 and despairing question in Genesis 37:30. There are so many good things that we want to accomplish in this world, but they are beyond us. Like Reuben, we may do that which is commendable—and may God keep us faithful—but only God can accomplish the desired results.

Finally, man cannot see the plans of God. Jacob was inconsolable. After all that the Lord has brought him through. After all that the Lord had guaranteed him by promise. After all that the Lord has surrounded him with. It wasn’t just that he couldn’t be comforted, but that he refused to be comforted. He was determined to do nothing but grieve until he died (Genesis 37:35). 

Jacob was so certain of his interpretation of the circumstances “without doubt Joseph is torn to pieces.” Really? Without doubt? The Holy Spirit hits us with the subtle data report from down south: “Now the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and captain of the guard” (Genesis 37:36). Things are not as they seem to Jacob. Things are often not as they seem to us. But they are always as the Lord has planned for His glory and the good of those whom He is saving in Christ.

What will God certainly accomplish for you? What has He given you to do, that only He can make successful?

Suggested songs: ARP131 “My Heart Is Not Exalted, Lord” or TPH256 “God Moves in a Mysterious”


Friday, November 13, 2020

2020.11.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 9:46–56

Read Luke 9:46–56

Questions from the Scripture text: About what did a dispute arise (Luke 9:46)? Whom does Jesus set before them (Luke 9:47)?  Whom do they receive if they receive a child in His Name (Luke 9:48)? Who will be great? Who answered in Luke 9:49? What did he see? And do? Why? What does Jesus say to do (Luke 9:50)? Why not? What time had now come in Luke 9:51a? What did Jesus now do (verse 51b)? Who would not now receive Him and why (Luke 9:52-53)? Now what did James and John want to do (Luke 9:54)? Who rebukes them (Luke 9:55)? Why (Luke 9:56)?

The question of whether or not we are receiving Jesus can appear in surprising places in our lives.

Whether we are receiving Christ appears in rivalry among believers (Luke 9:46). Competing to be the greatest betrays that we haven’t quite received how far above all of us is Christ and His greatness.

Whether we are receiving Christ appears in how we treat His children (Luke 9:48). If they are His, then receiving or not receiving them is really a receiving or not receiving Him. 

Whether we are receiving Christ appears in our willingness to acknowledge believers other than the ones who follow with us(Luke 9:49). This is not to say that right doctrine and practice are not important. That kind of “he who is not with us” is against Christ (cf. Luke 11:23). 

Whether we are receiving Christ appears in our willingness for Him to save others, and for us possibly to suffer with Him (Luke 9:53). The Samaritans didn’t get along with the Jews, and it’s possible that they also didn’t want any part of the trouble that Jesus was about to get into.

Whether we are receiving Christ appears in our patience under hatred. James and John didn’t have this patience (Luke 9:54), but this gave them a very different attitude than Christ (Luke 9:55). 

Jesus steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51), because He came not to destroy but to save (Luke 9:56). He will, most certainly, sit enthroned as Judge one day and carry out His wrath and vengeance upon them. But this is not why He came. He came to save. He came to receive by His death and resurrection those who receive Him by faith.

Toward whom ought you to be more receptive, as someone who is receiving Christ? 

Suggested songs: ARP72A “God, Give Your Judgments to the King” or TPH405 “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord”


Thursday, November 12, 2020

2020.11.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 5:25–33

Read Ephesians 5:25–33

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does the apostle address in Ephesians 5:25? What does he tell them to do? To whom? Like Whom? To whom? In doing what? Unto what purpose did Christ give Himself for the church (Ephesians 5:26)? By what does He sanctify and “cleanse her with the washing of water”? For what does she need this cleansing (Ephesians 5:27a)? From what does she need this cleansing (verse 27b)? Which wives should husbands love (Ephesians 5:28)? As what to him is she to be loved? What does a man do who loves his wife? What does Ephesians 5:29 say “no one ever hated”? What does a man ordinarily do with his own flesh? Who else does this with whom? What does Ephesians 5:30 call believers? What specifics does verse 30 add to “His body” (cf. Genesis 2:23)? What does Ephesians 5:31 quote in this context of talking about Christ and the church (cf. Mark 10:1–12; 1 Corinthians 6:12–20)? What does Ephesians 5:32 call it? What does the apostle say the mystery is about? To what does he now return to applying this mystery (Ephesians 5:33a)? Whom does verse 33b say the wife should reverence?

How did Christ love the church? That’s a vital question to see answered, if we are going to understand what husbands are being commanded to do in Ephesians 5:25.

Christ loved the church by giving Himself. He did many things for the church. He gave many things to the church. But the greatest thing He gave for her is Himself. Let husbands remember this. They ought to be willing to do anything for their wives and give anything good to their wives. But let them be sure to give their own self for them.

Christ loved the church with a view toward her eternal good. He wants her to be glorified. He wants her to be presented to Him perfectly enabled to enjoy Him. Therefore, His love drives her sanctification. The Word is pictured in Ephesians 5:26 as cleansing water, and He patiently, persistently cleanses His bride unto her eternal, perfect enjoyment of Him.

There is not, here, a perfect parallel. The earthly husband is not the greatest good for his wife. Christ is that greatest good. A husband is tempted to aim at being his wife’s great pleasure, and a wife may mistakenly desire the same. But the godly husband will aim at her finding Christ as her pleasure and aim. 

Such a husband will devote himself to his wife’s being enabled to attend upon the means of grace in private, family, and public worship. He will be careful of her doctrine, speak to her heart in instruction or correction, directing her always to her Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ loved the church as being His own flesh and bones. The mystery of why the woman was created from the man’s rib is finally solved in Ephesians 5:28-30: in order to look forward to the incarnation and to vital union with Christ. “Of His flesh and of His bones” is an amazing thing for Ephesians 5:30 to say, just as “the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” is an amazing thing for Acts 20:28 to say. God has blood? The Lord has flesh and bones? Yes, in order that He might marry the church to Himself as His cherished, nourished bride.

How sharply a man ought to sting from his wife’s pain, enjoy her pleasure, ache with her hunger, be laid low by her illness. How opposite this is to the unfeelingness at some times, and even rivalry at others, that men have toward their wives! Such is not reflective of Christ’s treasuring the church as His own flesh and bone.

Yes, the wife ought to reverence (the word “respect” in Ephesians 5:33 is the word for “fear”) her husband. And, we dealt with this submission and obedience in Ephesians 5:22-24. But, it will be that much easier for her to do so if each particular husband (no exceptions! Ephesians 5:32) loves his own wife as himself.

How can a boy discipline himself in selflessness and eternal-mindedness, to prepare to be the kind of husband described here? What are some obvious applications of this passage that are too rare in how husbands love their wives these days?

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


Wednesday, November 11, 2020

2020.11.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Samuel 23:1–13

Read 1 Samuel 23:1–13

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom did people tell when the Philistines were attacking and robbing Keilah (1 Samuel 23:1)? Whom did David ask about it (1 Samuel 23:2)? What did He answer? Who answered differently (1 Samuel 23:3)? On what grounds? What does David then do (1 Samuel 23:4)? What additional info does he receive in the second response? What does David do in 1 Samuel 23:5? How do 1 Samuel 23:2 and 1 Samuel 23:5 summarize what he did? What does 1 Samuel 23:6 now mention about 1 Samuel 22:20? What does Saul think is the reason/result of David going to Keilah (1 Samuel 23:7)? What does Saul now do—that he hadn’t done when Keilah was being attacked and robbed by Philistines(!) (1 Samuel 23:8)? For what does David ask in 1 Samuel 23:9? What does he use it to ask in 1 Samuel 23:10-11? What is Yahweh’s answer? What does he ask in 1 Samuel 23:12? What does Yahweh answer? What does David to in 1 Samuel 23:13, with what result?

The crown doesn’t matter at all, by comparison to the presence and blessing of Yahweh. David has a ragtag group that is now up to six hundred men (1 Samuel 23:13), but the people are still coming to him to help Keilah instead of coming to Saul (1 Samuel 23:1).

Part of the reason is that it is Yahweh, ultimately, who saves. And David inquires of Him (1 Samuel 23:2a), and Yahweh answers him (verse 2b). 

By comparison, Saul has been abandoned by the Word of Yahweh, instead asking anyone and everyone for intel on David, and rarely getting any useful response. As far as the text lets us know, the first he hears of the situation in Keilah is when news of David’s saving them arrives in 1 Samuel 23:7.

The Lord is with David, and He is patient with David. When David balks at the reaction of his men in 1 Samuel 23:3, even after being told by the Lord what to do in 1 Samuel 23:2, the Lord not only repeats the command but attaches a promise to it: “I will deliver the Philistines into your hand” (1 Samuel 23:4).

David is under siege from Saul (1 Samuel 23:11), and escapes the treachery of those whom he just saved only by the Lord’s forewarning him (1 Samuel 23:12). But the Lord is with him, not only to save him, but to make David useful in the Lord’s saving others.

Dear believer, you have the Word of the Lord. And not just a priest with an official ephod (1 Samuel 23:6), but your Great High Priest on the throne of heaven. Whoever attacks you, whoever betrays you, you can trust in this Lord and be useful in His work.

Who is attacking you? Who has let you down? What comforts do you have? Whom is the Lord using you to help? 

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