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, 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”