Each week we webcast Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, morning public worship at 11a, and p.m. singing and sermon at 2:30p (sermon at 3:30); and the Weds. Prayer Meeting at 6:30p

Saturday, August 08, 2020

2020.08.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 31:17–35

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Jacob do in Genesis 31:17? What does he carry away (Genesis 31:18)? What point does this verse make multiple times? To whom does he leave to go? To where? What had Laban gone to do (Genesis 31:19)? So, what does Rachel do? What does Jacob do (Genesis 31:20)? How does verse 20 explain saying that Jacob “stole” (same word as with Rachel in Genesis 31:19) away? Toward where did he head (Genesis 31:21)? How many days did it take for Laban to find out (Genesis 31:22)? Whom does he take (Genesis 31:23)? How long does it take him to overtake Jacob? Who comes to Laban in Genesis 31:24? How? What does He say to him? Where does Laban overtake Jacob (Genesis 31:25)? What does he ask Jacob (Genesis 31:26)? To what does he compare Jacob’s escape? What word does he again (cf. Genesis 31:19Genesis 31:20) use about Jacob’s secret escape in Genesis 31:27? What does he say he would have done for Jacob if he had told him? What else does he say that he wishes he had a chance to do (Genesis 31:28)? What does he say is in his power (Genesis 31:29)? What reason does he give for not doing anything to him? What does he call God? What had God said? What reasoning does Laban give for Jacob’s leaving (Genesis 31:30)? But what question does he now ask? What answer does Jacob give for running secretly (Genesis 31:31)? What does Jacob propose about the stolen gods (Genesis 31:32)? But what did he not know? Whose tents did Laban check first (Genesis 31:33)? Whose did he check last? Into what had Rachel put the gods (Genesis 31:34)? What did she do with the saddle? What did Laban do? What did he not do? What does Rachel say to her father in Genesis 31:35? What does she claim is her reason for not rising? What did he do? What did he not do?
Who is like God?

No one at all. Nothing at all. He alone is worthy of worship, trust-worthy of faith, worthy of total obedience.

Trusting in yourself is ridiculous. You might be out of pocket shearing sheep for a few days (Genesis 31:19aGenesis 31:22). Or gullible to one of the oldest excuses in the book (Genesis 31:35). Or maybe you’re so dull of heart that after hearing your own husband’s confession of faith in Genesis 31:7-13, and responding “whatever God has said to you, do it,” you still steal the household gods (Genesis 31:19b). Speaking of which…

Trusting in idols is even more ridiculous. They can’t even keep themselves from being stolen. How useless! They can be stuffed into a camel saddle. How tiny!

And they certainly don’t appear in visions to protect their people (Genesis 31:29), or overrule all circumstances and opposition for their people’s good (Genesis 31:36-42).

Job’s are lost. Economies tank. Friends betray. Even the best of earthly kings die. Health vanishes or slowly fades away. The best plans are missing all sorts of information about the present and know nothing of the future. Useless! Tiny!

God alone is our strength and shield. Our help is in the Name of the Lord, Who made the heavens and the earth!
What are you tempted to rely upon instead of the Lord? In what ways has it fallen short in its ability to come through? In what ways has it/they fallen short in their faithfulness or care for you?
Suggested songs: ARP16A “Keep Me, O God” or TPH16A “Preserve Me, O My God”

Friday, August 07, 2020

Expectation Reorientation (Family Worship in Lk 7:18–35)

Pastor leads his family in today's Hopewell @Home passage, Luke 7:18–35. Whenever our expectations chafe against the Lord or His Word, it is we who need an expectation reorientation. Many are unable to get over when God is not as they expect, but Jesus says, "blessed is he who is not offended because of Me."

2020.08.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 7:18–35

Questions from the Scripture text: Whose disciples reported to him about Jesus (Luke 7:18)? To Whom did John send two disciples (Luke 7:19)? What did he send them to ask? What do the men do (Luke 7:20)? And what does Jesus do (Luke 7:21)? When? What answer does Jesus send back to John (Luke 7:22-23)? To whom does Jesus begin speaking about whom in Luke 7:24? What does He ask them? What else does He ask in Luke 7:25? To whom is Jesus comparing him? What does He ask the third time (Luke 7:26)? Which prophet does Jesus say that John is (Luke 7:27)? How great a prophet does Jesus say that John is (Luke 7:28)? Bot who is greater than he? Who justified God in Luke 7:29? Why? Who rejected the will of God in Luke 7:30? Why not? About whom does Jesus now ask in Luke 7:31? What does he call them (Luke 7:32)? What are they doing? What didn’t John the Baptist do (Luke 7:33)? And what did they say about him? Who did eat and drink (Luke 7:34)? And what did they say about Him? Who will be justified by whom (Luke 7:35)?
One of the chief hallmarks of our Lord Jesus Christ is that He doesn’t please this world.

When John the Baptizer wants to know if Jesus is the Coming One (Luke 7:19-21)—the One of Whom John himself had said that he was not worthy to untie His sandal—Jesus immediately showed the two John had sent many miracles (Luke 7:21). Yes, Jesus is not of this world. But the climax of Jesus’s actual message back was “the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Luke 7:22). Not only Jesus power, but also His values, are not what we would expect from this world. He has a special care for “the least of these.”

Is Jesus what the world would expect? No. But it is our duty to modify our expectations and fall down in worship (Luke 7:23)

Jesus underlines the same thing about John himself. The Baptizer wasn’t the kind of wimpy (Luke 7:24) man-pleaser like the wealthy of the world (Luke 7:25). But he who was not impressive to the world was greater than all the other prophets (Luke 7:26-28).

Again, when expectations collide, God’s must prevail. John had preached a baptism of repentance, and the sinners who had received it (Luke 7:29) praised God for the news that the one who enters the kingdom in the worthiness of Jesus (end of Luke 7:28) has a worthiness even than John’s! (Of course, those who wished not to repent at all, but to count themselves worthy without it, rejected Jesus’s message about an out-of-this-world worthiness through faith in Christ, Luke 7:30).

Finally, Jesus confronts those who have rejected both of them. On the one hand, John’s message of the necessity of extreme repentance was more than they could bear, so they said, “He has a demon” (Luke 7:33). But, neither could they bear Jesus’s message of free grace for sinners and a life of liberty to enjoy the good things of God in a godly way; so they attacked Him for encouraging joyous feasting and drinking wine, calling Him a friend of tax collectors and sinners (Luke 7:34, cf. Luke 5:27–32).

But what is the wisdom of God? It is the wisdom that demands a complete and perfect righteousness in God’s holiness, but, turning around in power and mercy, completely provides that perfect righteousness in Christ. And those who receive this gospel of grace praise the wisdom of God as perfect (Luke 7:35)!
Whom do you know that is unimpressed with/rejecting the Lord or His true/biblical people?
Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH404 “The Church’s One Foundation”

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Being Made Useful for Building One Another up in Christ (Family Worship in Eph 4)

Pastor leads his family in today's Hopewell @Home Scripture, Ephesians 4:12–13. Believers need constant doctrinal mending and maintenance, so that we will be useful in reinforcing one another in Christ's thoughts and desires, as He uses us to help each other grow up into Him and upon Him.

The Great Husband Who Listens to His Bride (1Pet 3:7 Prayer Devotional)

Because Jesus is the great Husband, who dwells with His bride according to knowledge, in an understanding way, and listens to her and attends to all her needs. If earthly husbands do not, the Lord Jesus warns that their prayers will be hindered.

God Decides What's Worshipful (FW lesson in 1Sam 15:1–23)

Pastor leads his family in yesterday's Hopewell @Home lesson from 1Sam 15:1–23. Sometimes we think that something just feels so worshipful. Saul certainly thought so about the method in which he was going to off the last of the Amalekite livestock. He thought their little, well-meaning modification to God's command was a good thing that would be rewarded. God, however, hated it as a rejection of His Word, and He rejected Saul.

2020.08.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 4:12–13

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom were the apostles and prophets and evangelists and pastor-teachers been given to equip (Ephesians 4:12)? For what work? What were these gifts given also to build up? Who come to what unity by these works (Ephesians 4:13)? To what knowledge do they come? To what kind of man? To what measure and stature?
Why must we have this thoroughly Scripture-founded, Scripture-formed, Scripture-filled, Scripture-facilitated ministry from Ephesians 4:11?

Because we are in constant need of repair. That’s what the word translated “equipping” (Ephesians 4:12) really means: restoring again back to usefulness, like when the fishermen were repairing their nets and hooks.

The equipping ministry of the Word is like a soldier who keeps his body fit and meticulously maintains his weapons, because he’s got a mission.

What is that mission? Ministry (service, verse 12—and, in this case, necessarily service in the truth) by which Christ builds up His body (verse 12). Elders’ ministry in the Word, and our service to one another, aims especially at three things:

The unity of the faith (Ephesians 4:13). Biblical unity is not peaceful interaction between those who disagree, but the reorientation of many different minds and values and preferences to the one mind and values and preferences of Christ. It is the unity of the faith. Unity that comes by passionate pursuit of agreement with Scripture, under the ministry of pastor-teachers upon whose ministries all the saints attend well so that they can reinforce it to one another.

A second thing that biblical ministry aims at is the knowledge of the Son of God (verse 13). Not merely “all the feels” about Jesus. It’s Scripture-driven and theological. O, everything, everything, we learn of our Lord Jesus should and does inflame our hearts with passionate love to our glorious and dear Redeemer! But this is a love and a knowledge that is built brick by brick, sinew by sinew, by every new thing that we accurately and truly understand about the Lord Jesus. This is not a surprising response to the pastor-teachers’ ministry in the Word of God, because our Lord Jesus says, “it is they [the Scriptures] that speak of Me.”

A final thing that biblical ministry aims at is maturity (“a perfect man,” verse 13). What is Christian maturity measured by? Christ (verse 13). How does one come by this maturity? Being filled with Christ (verse 13). Believers who want more of Jesus should be seeking their elders to pastor them more in the Word and to teach them more from the Word, then reinforcing that in which they are led and taught with one another. Here is a wonderful truth in this verse: this is Jesus’s way not only of making us know Him more, but also of making us more like Him, by filling us with Himself!

So a biblical ministry is a Jesus ministry. And a Jesus ministry is: saints, who have been repaired/remedied from their own thoughts/values/preferences to be reoriented to those of Christ, by the ministry of pastor-teachers, now proceeding to reinforce one another in this reorientation. And Jesus Himself has been pleased to appoint this as the way by which we know Jesus more, become more like Jesus, and are even filled with Jesus. Praise Jesus!
What should pastor-teachers be doing? What will keep their congregations in good shape? Why is your own sermon-listening and Scripture meditation important to the building of the church? Why is it important for unity? What are some things that you have been learning about Jesus in the Bible recently? How have you reinforced it to others?
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH23A “The Lord’s My Shepherd”

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

2020.08.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Samuel 15:1–23

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Samuel remind Saul about his kingship (1 Samuel 15:1)? What then should Saul do? Whom does Yahweh of hosts plan to punish (1 Samuel 15:2)? Why? What must Saul do, how completely, and to whom, and specifically to what (1 Samuel 15:3)? What did Saul do to the people in 1 Samuel 15:4? How many were there? Where did they go in 1 Samuel 15:5? Whom does Saul give prior notice in 1 Samuel 15:6? Why? What does Saul do in 1 Samuel 15:7Whom does he take in 1 Samuel 15:8? What does he do with the rest of the people? Whom and what do Saul and the people spare (1 Samuel 15:9)? How did they decide what to spare or what to destroy? What comes to Samuel in 1 Samuel 15:10? What does Yahweh say about having made Saul king (1 Samuel 15:11a)? Upon what basis does He evaluate Saul’s kingship? How does Samuel respond? When does Samuel rise in 1 Samuel 15:12? For whom is he looking? But where has Saul been, and what has Saul done? When Saul sees Samuel, what does he say to him (1 Samuel 15:13)? What does he claim about himself? What does Samuel ask in response (1 Samuel 15:14)? What does Saul say is the purpose of the animals (1 Samuel 15:15)? How does Samuel answer him in 1 Samuel 15:16? What does he remind Saul that Yahweh has done for him (1 Samuel 15:17)? What does he remind Saul that Yahweh has commanded him to do (1 Samuel 15:18)? What does he say that Saul has done instead (1 Samuel 15:19)? What does Saul claim in response (1 Samuel 15:20)? Whom does he blame (1 Samuel 15:21)? But how does he defend them? What does Samuel say more delightful to Yahweh than burnt offerings and sacrifices (1 Samuel 15:22)? What does he say is better than sacrifice and the fat of rams? What is rebellion as bad as (1 Samuel 15:23)? What is stubbornness as bad as? What has Saul rejected? What has Yahweh rejected from what?
1 Samuel 15:22-23 controls our understanding of this entire passage. God doesn’t particularly care for our acts of worship in and of themselves. Ultimately, the value of a sacrifice was that it was one that God had commanded in anticipation of Christ and His cross. Similarly for us today, the value of our worship is that it is mediated by Christ in heaven, upon the worthiness of His righteousness and His sacrifice on the cross.

The problem is that many of us think that we are doing what God wants (1 Samuel 15:131 Samuel 15:20), and are very sincerely giving God what we think is best (1 Samuel 15:91 Samuel 15:21). And we think that God likes it.

But if we have added our own ideas to the worship of God, or if we add to His law, this is the Bible’s assessment of what we have done: “you have rejected the word of Yahweh.” And how dreadful to consider that if this is the case with us, then we can expect to hear, “He also has rejected you from being king.”

This is one of the glories of Jesus’s forever-kingship. He is the never-rejected King! He is the One who has never rejected the word of Yahweh, but always kept it. And if we rest upon Him alone for salvation, He is our forever-King, and His righteousness is our righteousness.

But let us not think that this is license to obey. For, our Lord comes to us in Christ, as if to say like 1 Samuel 15:1, “The Lord sent me to be your Redeemer and King. Now therefore, heed the voice of the words of the Lord.” Can we rejoice to be God’s and Christ’s and not repent and pursue obedience with all our heart?

So, let us rejoice that not only do we have a King who has no sin of His own from which to repent, but also Who is able by His Spirit to work repentance in us, and give that repentance increasing success until He has made us to be like Himself!
What is one area of your worship or your life that you thought was sincerely spiritual and good, but which God’s Word has exposed to you as disobedience and rebellion? What is your hope for forgiveness when this happens? What is your hope for doing better when this happens?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH119W “Lord, Let My Cry Before You Come”

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Gospel Gifts from the Victorious King: Offices of Word and Doctrine

After giving Himself as His own greatest Gift, and the Chief Cornerstone of the church, Jesus gave four foundational and constructional gifts. The foundational gifts of apostles and prophets, through whom His foundation of Scripture was finished. And the constructional gifts of evangelists (who proclaim His Word where it hasn't yet been heard) and pastor-teachers (who lead by and proclaim His Word to the members of the church so that each may cause all the others to grow properly upon the foundation).

2020.08.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 3:17–4:7

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom do we turn, when we turn to Lord (2 Corinthians 3:17)? And what does the Lord, the Spirit, give us? And what do we see, when our blindness is removed (2 Corinthians 3:18)? And what effect does this have upon us? What have Paul and his companions received for their ministry (2 Corinthians 4:1)? What do they not lose? What does he call the things that they have renounced in 2 Corinthians 4:2? In what do they refuse to walk? How do they refuse to handle the word of God? Instead, what do they do with the truth? To what aspect, then, of every man, do they commend themselves? In whose sight? What may happen to their gospel (2 Corinthians 4:3a)? But to whom would it be veiled (verse 3b)? What does 2 Corinthians 4:4 call the devil? What has he done to those who are perishing? What do they not do? What does this veil keep them from seeing? Who is Christ, according to verse 4? What, then, do Paul and his companions not preach (2 Corinthians 4:5)? What do they preach? How do they consider themselves? Who does the work (2 Corinthians 4:6)? What else has He done about 4000 years prior? In whom else has He already done this spiritual counterpart to that work? Where does He shine? What light does He give? In whose face is the knowledge of this glory received? By what kind of vessel is this treasure conveyed (2 Corinthians 4:7)? What does this show?
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Confession of Sin come from 2 Corinthians 3:17–4:7 in order that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Spirit of God, Dwell Thou within My Heart.

Here, the apostle explains why his ministry is not generally impressive to all. One might have (wrongly) expected that the ministry of an apostle would be impressive to anyone.

Paul’s ultimate response is that God alone is the impressiveness of the work, and those who are not impressed with Him are not going to find anything else to be impressed with in his ministry (2 Corinthians 4:7). This doesn’t bother him, because his ministry is not his idea or his pride. It as an assignment of God by the mercy of God. It may seem to be going poorly, but if it is of God, then there is no reason to lose heart!

Ironically, the apostle refers to superficially impressive ministry as “the hidden things of shame.” There is a way of handling the Word of God that looks impressive on the outside, but what you cannot see is that it is man-derived and man-dependent. But the apostles are not concerned with commending themselves to men’s admiration. They are concerned with commending themselves to men’s consciences. O that we would learn to see our life as an assignment from God and deal earnestly with others as those who will have to stand before Him!! How this might help us to stop living for their applause!

Will such a ministry have a hundred percent conversion rate? No and yes. In one sense, no. There are those who are perishing. And if the Lord has not atoned for them, and is not going to regenerate them, then what exactly are we supposed to be able to do about that? It is not just that they are unable to see God’s glory. It is also that they are not permitted. 2 Corinthians 4:4 says that God has set things up this way because He refuses to shine the light of the gospel upon them.

But in another sense, yes. Such a ministry will have a hundred percent conversion rate. For, the Lord is all powerful. He spoke light itself into existence. And He can speak spiritual light into existence in the hearts. And He does, because in the case of His elect, He is determined to give them the light of the knowledge of His glory in the face of Jesus Christ! It is the Lord, the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17a) who frees sinners from their blindness (verse 3:17b) so that they may not only see the glory of the Lord in the first place (2 Corinthians 3:18a), but also grow in our sanctification until He has at last conformed us to His own glorious image (verse 3:18b)!
What kind of ministry should we look for in the church? Whom should we be looking to make it effective? With whom should we aim at being impressed? What aims and approaches are incompatible with this? 
Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH393 “Spirit of God, Dwell Thou within Our Hearts”

Monday, August 03, 2020

Racial Reconciliation 4: Loving Our Enemies (200802 Sabbath School)

Those who are at enmity with the Lord Jesus will be at enmity with His followers. But, He has told us what to do about that: love your enemies.

You Need Jesus More Than You Can See Or Know (2020.08.02 Morning Sermon in Genesis 31:1–16)

We have more enemies than we can see, and more sin than we can see. But God, Who is doing more than we can see, is working in all things for the perfect and permanent good of those who belong to Him through Jesus—and to Whom He gives Himself to belong to them.

2020.08.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 31:1–16

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Jacob hear in Genesis 31:1? What were Laban’s sons saying that Jacob had done? What does Jacob see in Genesis 31:2? What was the difference in it now, from before? Who spoke to Jacob in Genesis 31:3? What does He tell Jacob to do? Whom does He say will be with Jacob? For whom does Jacob send in Genesis 31:4? To where? To what? What does he say that he has seen (Genesis 31:5)? How does he now explain his surviving and prospering? What does he say that they know (Genesis 31:6)? What does Jacob say that Laban has done (Genesis 31:7)? What does Jacob say has kept Laban from succeeding in this? How did God stop him (Genesis 31:8)? What does Jacob conclude that God has done (Genesis 31:9)? What had happened to Jacob, when (Genesis 31:10)? Who spoke to him (Genesis 31:11)? What did He say? What did Jacob say? In Genesis 31:12, what explanation does God give for which rams “leap on the flocks”? How does God identify Himself in Genesis 31:13? What two things does He remind Jacob that Jacob had done at Bethel (verse 13)? What does God now command Jacob to do? What do Rachel and Leah ask in Genesis 31:14? What do they ask in Genesis 31:15? What do they say that Laban has done? What do they say that God has done (Genesis 31:16)? To whom do they say that the flocks really belong? What do they tell Jacob to do? 
Our God sees. Everything.

Long before Jacob “saw the countenance of Laban, and indeed it was not favorable toward him as before” (Genesis 31:2), Yahweh had “seen all that Laban is doing to you” (Genesis 31:12). This is not good news for Laban. Indeed, it is not good news for anyone who is outside of Christ. Apart from Christ, “God knows my heart” is never good news.

But for the Christian, it is great news that God sees everything that is done to us.

Because our God works. In everything. For our good.

Laban’s failure to harm Jacob wasn’t for lack of trying. And it wasn’t for Jacob’s cleverness or diligence to overcome it—no matter what Jacob at first thought about his clever breeding scheme. No, in the vision to which Jacob refers in Genesis 31:11-13, he learned the real reason, “but God did not allow him to hurt me” (Genesis 31:7).

Thus, God had instructed His chosen one. So that Jacob would not see the instruction in Genesis 31:3 as an indication that what Jacob really needed was a change of geographic location.

Our God is with us. Everywhere.

The promise attached to Jacob’s removal back to Canaan is, “and I will be with you” (verse 3). But this would not be something new. Indeed, God had always been with him.

Jacob understands that this is the message of Genesis 31:11-13, when he says later in Genesis 31:42, “Unless the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac had been with me.” Jacob has learned that God isn’t just with His people in Canaan, or when running from Esau.

The angels had always been ascending and descending, in their continually obedient attendance unto God’s elect one. It had never been by might, nor by power, but always by God’s Spirit that Jacob had been protected and prospered in his way.

Why then the relocation to Canaan? Because it is the land of promise. This is how we are to understand, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your family” from Genesis 31:3. The Lord is commanding Jacob to make his life choices as someone who clings to God’s promises, which are terms upon which God has bound Himself to him in covenant.

This is the greatest covenant promise—the one that makes all of the other ones a blessing, and to which all of the other ones point: “I will be your God, and you will be My people.”

This is what you need, dear Christian. Whether or not you can escape trouble, heal from disease, improve financial circumstances, get relief from persecution. The Lord may or may not alter your circumstances, but whether in these circumstances or new ones, here will be your purpose, your protection, your prosperity, your pleasure: “Unless  the God of Abraham had been with me…”
What circumstances/people are a threat? What is your protection, prosperity, and pleasure in it?
Suggested songs: ARP146 “Praise the Lord” or TPH257 “Children of the Heavenly Father”