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, December 05, 2020

Remembered in Love by the Sovereign Lord (Family Worship in Genesis 40)

Why did the cupbearer forget Joseph? Pastor leads his family in today's "Hopewell @Home" passage. In these twenty-three verses, we learn that the Lord always, always remembers us to do everything according to His perfect plan of redemption, which was conceived in everlasting love. The cupbearer didn't remember Joseph precisely because the Lord was remembering him, and would lift up his head at the right time.

2020.12.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 40

Read Genesis 40

Questions from the Scripture text: Who had done what in Genesis 40:1? What does Pharaoh do to them (Genesis 40:2-3)? With whom do they end up? To whom does the captain of the guard entrust them (Genesis 40:4)? What happens to them in Genesis 40:5? What does Joseph notice in Genesis 40:6? What does he ask (Genesis 40:7)? What do they say (Genesis 40:8)? What does Joseph say about interpretations? What does he ask them to do? Who goes first (Genesis 40:9)? What happened in his dream (Genesis 40:9-11)? What does Joseph say is the interpretation (Genesis 40:12-13)? What request does Joseph make (Genesis 40:14)? How does he summarize the last several years of his life (Genesis 40:15)? What did the chief baker see (Genesis 40:16)? What does he tell Joseph about his dream (Genesis 40:16-17)? What does Joseph say is the interpretation (Genesis 40:18-19)? How long does it take for these things to be fulfilled (Genesis 40:20-22)? How does it come about? What comes of Joseph’s request (Genesis 40:23)?

Dreams and their interpretations have been significant in Joseph’s life so far (cf. Genesis 37:1–11). We see now that he still has complete confidence that his dreams are going to be fulfilled. “Interpretations belong to God” (Genesis 40:8). If he were discouraged, we might have expected him to make little of their dreams—his own, after all, certainly don’t seem to be panning out at this point.

But interpretations do belong to God, because God works all things according to the counsel of His own will. Sometimes that’s pleasant news (the butler who will be lifted up). Sometimes that’s unpleasant news (the baker whose head will be lifted up—off his body). But, it’s always good news (coming in the providence of the good God, who uses even Joseph’s enslavement and false imprisonment for good).

This is why Joseph is doing what he’s doing, as well as he’s doing it. Not only has the keeper of the prison put the whole operation under Joseph’s charge (cf. Genesis 39:22), but Potiphar himself seems to personally request him for these high profile inmates (Genesis 40:4). 

And Joseph rises to the occasion. He’s so attentive in his care, he can tell by looking at the other inmates when they are down (Genesis 40:6). And it matters enough to him to inquire after why (Genesis 40:7) and to try to help them with it (Genesis 40:8).

But just because God fulfills all His good purposes for us in Christ doesn’t mean all things are going to go well. Joseph was still stolen from his homeland and wrongfully imprisoned (Genesis 40:15). And, just because God will never forget us doesn’t necessarily mean that others will be faithful to us. “Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph but forgot him” (Genesis 40:23).

So, as you serve diligently and cheerfully because you are standing upon God’s faithfulness, do not lose heart or let up if things get worse before they get better.

In what current situations do you most need reminding that God is remembering you and keeping His promises?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH246 “Though Troubles Assail Us”

Friday, December 04, 2020

What We CANNOT Do to Inherit Eternal Life (Family Worship in Luke 10:25–37)

What can we do to inherit eternal life? Pastor leads his family in today's "Hopewell @Home" passage. In these thirteen verses, we learn that the only One Who can do what is necessary to inherit eternal life is the Lord Jesus, Who infinitely loved His enemies at the cost of infinite self-sacrifice, to do us infinite good. Then He proceeds to conform the redeemed to His own glorious character as His Spirit grows us in keeping the two greatest commandments!

Working Heartily and Lovingly as Slaves of Christ (Family Worship in Eph 6:5–9)

In what way is the Bible pro-slavery? Pastor leads his family in yesterday's "Hopewell @Home" passage. In these five verses, we learn that Christians should all be delighted to be the slaves of their perfect Master, Who is worthy of their sincere, diligent, cheerful, loving obedience in whatever role they have and whatever work they do.

2020.12.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 10:25–37

Read Luke 10:25–37

Questions from the Scripture text: Who stood up in  Luke 10:25? What was he doing to Jesus? What does he ask? With what kind of sentence does Jesus respond (Luke 10:26)? What is Jesus’s question? How does the law-expert answer (Luke 10:27)? What does Jesus say about this answer (Luke 10:28)? What does Jesus say would happen if the man could do this? What did the law-expert now want to do (Luke 10:29)? What does he ask? What does Jesus tell in answer (Luke 10:30-35)? Where is the man in the parable going (Luke 10:30)? What happens to him? Who come by in Luke 10:31-32, and what do they do? Who comes by in Luke 10:33? What does he have? What does he do in this compassion (Luke 10:34-35)? What does Jesus ask at the end of the parable (Luke 10:36)? What does the man answer (Luke 10:37a)? What does Jesus tell the man to do (verse 37b)?

The parable of the good Samaritan is very familiar. We are to love our neighbors—even those who are from groups that would ordinarily despise us (Luke 10:33a), out of genuine compassion (verse 33b), and even at great cost to ourselves (Luke 10:34-35). 

But the context of the parable—and therefore, also, its primary message—is not so familiar. The reason that we have this parable at all is that there was an expert in the law who wanted to justify himself.

He wanted to know what he could do to inherit eternal life.

Jesus asks him, and it turns out that he already knows that basically he has to obey all of God’s law, perfectly, from the heart.

But he can’t do that. And that’s the point. You and I can’t earn our eternal life for ourselves. Here was a man who wasn’t coming to Jesus to receive eternal life as a gift. He was coming for instructions about how to earn it.

So, when Jesus affirms that the man was correct about what he would have to do (Luke 10:28), the man wants to justify himself (Luke 10:29). And the whole thing ends with Jesus telling him that he would have to love, even his enemies, in this way (Luke 10:37).

So, yes, a big part of this parable is teaching us what loving our neighbors looks like. But the point of the passage as a whole is that you and I cannot possibly love this way in our flesh. But the Lord Jesus Christ has loved us—His enemies—at the greatest expenditure and sacrifice that could ever have been!

Having His keeping of the law counted for us is the only way to receive eternal life. And then, as He is working in us according to that eternal life that He has earned, this is the kind of neighbor-love that we should pursue by grace—rejoicing as we see Him producing it in us.

Have you received eternal life as a gift? What enemy are you compassionately loving as another gift from Christ?

Suggested songs: ARP15 “O Lord within Your Tent” or TPH457 “Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness”

Thursday, December 03, 2020

A Praying People of a Praying Savior (201202 Prayer Lesson in Rev 8:1–5)

God has ordained to do His great works in response to His Son, and He has given His adopted children in Christ the privilege of praying with Him, and having their prayers offered up by Him.

2020.12.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 6:5–9

Read Ephesians 6:5–9

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does Ephesians 6:5 address? What are they to do to which masters? In what manner? With what heart? As unto Whom? What two things would hinder this kind of obedience (Ephesians 6:6)? What view of oneself helps this kind of obedience—what are we unto Christ? Whose will are we to do? From what? With what kind of will should we serve (Ephesians 6:7)? As unto Whom as opposed to whom? Who will repay good done in this manner (Ephesians 6:8)? To whom? Whom does Ephesians 6:9 address? To whom do the same principles apply? What must they not do? What do they have in heaven? Of what is there none with Him? 

We’re all slaves. Not necessarily in the way that Ephesians 6:5 means (although, those who sell most of their waking hours each week to a master probably feel more like than they’re willing to admit). But, believers are all slaves in the way that Ephesians 6:6 and Ephesians 6:9 mean. We’re bondslaves of Christ who have a Master in heaven.

So, whereas the apostle doesn’t command slavery to end (not all slavery in Rome was of the man-stealing kind that is condemned in 1 Timothy 1:9–11 and other places), he does bring all—slaves and masters—down to the same places.

It is incredibly freeing, if you are a slave, to know that your true Master is in heaven. The Lord Jesus will never abuse you, never disregard you, and always do you more good than you could ever earn. He’s worthy of doing any kind of service, 

which frees us to do our daily work as the highest of callings (“with fear and trembling,” Ephesians 6:5), 

out of love unto Jesus (“in sincerity of heart, as to Christ”), 

and with joyous diligence (“doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service”).

And it is incredibly humbling to the one who has no earthly master to know that he is under a heavenly Master (Ephesians 6:9). Threatening is easy to do if we feel like we are on top. But, the apostle warns those who are tempted to threaten that they are not unaccountable. There is no partiality with Him. Earthly masters are under just as much obligation to lead and govern cheerfully, diligently, kindly as earthly servants are to be obedient to them in that way.

Since the apostle began describing the Spirit-filled life (Ephesians 5:18), he has been taking us through the places where the light displays itself against the darkness, and the spiritual battle (cf. Ephesians 6:10 ff) is fought. Corporate worship. Marriage. Growing up as children. Parenting those children.

The workplace (whatever that workplace is, or whatever our role in it is) is another place where the battle is waged. And it is waged by cheerfulness, diligence, sincerity of heart, love to Jesus in menial/unrewarded jobs, and doing all of these things just as much so when Jesus is the only One looking.

Fight the spiritual war!

What is your least enjoyable task? Whom do you mistreat? How does being Jesus’s bondslave change both?

Suggested songs: ARP128 “How Blessed Are All Who Fear the Lord” or TPH534 “Fill Thou My Life, O Lord My God”

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Looking to the Lord for Provision, Vindication, Justice... & the Faith to Look to Him (Family Worship in 1Sam25)

How can we look to the Lord for provision and vindication, when everything seems to be going against us? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these forty-four verses, we learn that even when the Lord has graciously spared us in previous temptation, we must be watchful against the next temptation. We already know that He provides, He vindicates, and He avenges. But, we don’t have it in us to rest upon and respond to those things. God Himself, however, graciously spares us. This is what He did for David, who had spared Saul, but was about to avenge himself upon Nabal. The LORD graciously sends Abigail to remind David of the truth to which he needs to cling, sparing David (again!) from committing the sin of avenging himself.

2020.12.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Samuel 25

Read 1 Samuel 25

Questions from the Scripture text: Who died in 1 Samuel 25:1? Who lamented him? Who buried him? Where? Where did David go? What was the status of the man to whom 1 Samuel 25:2 introduces us? What was his name (1 Samuel 25:3)? Who was his wife, and what was she like? What was he like? Who heard that this man was doing what in 1 Samuel 25:4? Whom did he send (1 Samuel 25:5)? To greet Nabal as whose representatives? What were they specifically to say (1 Samuel 25:6)? What were they to point out about how this peace had come to Nabal (1 Samuel 25:7)? With whom could Nabal check out this story (1 Samuel 25:8)? What kind of a day was a sheep-shearing day? What are the young men to ask for? What do they do (1 Samuel 25:9)? What does Nabal’s response in 1 Samuel 25:10 suggest is his position on David’s trouble with Saul? What is his response to the request (1 Samuel 25:11)? What do David’s young men do (1 Samuel 25:12)? What instruction does David give to whom in response (1 Samuel 25:13)? How many went with him? How many stayed back? Whom did one of Nabal’s young men tell (1 Samuel 25:14)? What witness did he also give (1 Samuel 25:15-16, cf. 1 Samuel 25:8)? Why was action needed (1 Samuel 25:17a)? Why was it Abigail to whom they came for it (verse 17b)? What provision does she make (1 Samuel 25:18)? Whom does she send (1 Samuel 25:19)? Whom doesn’t she tell? Where does she meet him for cover (1 Samuel 25:20)? Why was David so troubled by lack of provision for him (1 Samuel 25:21)? What had he told himself (1 Samuel 25:22)? In what manner does Abigail meet him (1 Samuel 25:23)? Against whom does she ask him to count the offense (1 Samuel 25:24a)? What does she at first request (verse 24b)? How does she explain the first response that David had received (1 Samuel 25:25)? To Whom does she credit that vengeance has not yet been taken (1 Samuel 25:26a)? Upon whom does she assert that Yahweh will take His own vengeance, and whom does she curse to be like him (v26b)? What does she ask David to do in 1 Samuel 25:27? In 1 Samuel 25:28? What position does she take on David’s trouble with Saul (1 Samuel 25:29)? What does she remind David that Yahweh will do (1 Samuel 25:29-31)? What does she say David will have been glad to have done when Yahweh has finished keeping His promises? Whom does David bless for what in 1 Samuel 25:32? Whom does David bless for what in 1 Samuel 25:33? How does he agree with and follow Abigail’s thinking in 1 Samuel 25:34 (cf. 1 Samuel 25:26a)? What information does he add now? How does David respond to her requests (1 Samuel 25:35)? What does Abigail find Nabal doing when she returns (1 Samuel 25:36)? What does she tell him then? What has happened by morning (1 Samuel 25:37)? What does she tell him then? What happens to him at that point? What does Yahweh do to him ten days later (cf. 1 Samuel 25:26b)? Whom does David bless for what two things in 1 Samuel 25:39? What additional action does he take? Who delivers this proposal (1 Samuel 25:40)? With what manner/attitude does she reply in 1 Samuel 25:41? With what action does she respond in 1 Samuel 25:42? Whom else did he have as a wife at this point (1 Samuel 25:43)? Whom did he not have (1 Samuel 25:44)? Why not?

We would do well to do like David and have our attention correctly redirected by Abigail. 

Of course, David was right about what a fool (literally, 1 Samuel 25:25) Nabal was. God gives the rather decisive vote of agreement in 1 Samuel 25:38. But David almost committed against Nabal in chapter 25 (cf. 1 Samuel 25:261 Samuel 25:331 Samuel 25:39) the sin that he avoided committing against Saul in chapter 24. 

It was Abigail who reminded David that the Lord was caring for his needs and would avenge him so that David didn’t have to (and shouldn’t). Yes, David had faithfully protected Nabal’s men and flock, but ultimately it would be the Lord who repaid him/them, even if Nabal did not.

Dear Christian, seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, and all that is needful—indeed, all that is beneficial—will be added unto you. Do not worry (as David might have done, with 600 mouths to feed in the wilderness), and do not indulge a desire to avenge yourself. Look to God to provide and to avenge!

But, don’t forget to look to God for the looking to God. Yes, in this chapter God gives David provision and vengeance. But the story of the passage is how God provided the wise intervention of Abigail to stir up David’s faith to look back to the Lord. As you and I read of this, and realize that we need to be mindful of depending upon our God, let us look to Him to keep giving us His Word and stirring up our faith by His Spirit.

About what are you tempted to worry? Against whom are you tempted to avenge yourself? How will God help avenge yourself? How will God help you not to?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH46A “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength”

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Careful to Maintain Good Works by God's Grace in Our Past, Present, & Future (Family Worship in Titus 3:3–8)

How can you maintain good works without becoming a legalist? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these six verses, we learn that God’s grace to us in our, present, and future provides a bevy of reasons that Christians “must constantly affirm that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain Good works.”

2020.12.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ Titus 3:3–8

Read Titus 3:3–8

Questions from the Scripture text: What seven things were “we ourselves once” (Titus 3:3)? What appeared (Titus 3:4)? Not by what did it appear (Titus 3:5)? But according to what? What did God do? Through what? What did God do with His Spirit (Titus 3:6)? Onto whom? How much? Through Whom? What did His grace accomplish (Titus 3:7a)? What did this make us? According to what hope? What kind of saying is Titus 3:8? What does the apostle (by the Spirit) want them to constantly do with it? About which people is he talking in this verse? What should they be careful to maintain? What results do good works produce for men? 

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Titus 3:3–8, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with How Vast the Benefits Divine.

Justification is one part of God’s marvelous salvation of terrible sinners.

And “terrible sinners” is what we all start out as. “Foolish”—those who say in our hearts that there is no God. “Disobedient”—those whose wickedness resists restraining by authority. “Deceived”—those whose minds resist the truth of God, living and worshiping according to our own ideas instead.  “Serving various lusts and pleasures”—dominated by desires instead of delighting in God’s goodness that is the proper object of proper desire.  “Living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another”—our hostility to God spilling over in all manner of hostile thought and action toward those made in His image.

So, it ought to be obvious that God saving us is “not by works of righteousness which we have done”—such a thing could never save us because apart from God’s kindness and love and mercy, such a thing doesn’t exist! When God became man, “the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared” in the person of the incarnate Lord Jesus. 

But there is also a glorious moment in the life of every elect person where “the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man” appears. According to God’s mercy (not our or others’ effort, not our or others’ wisdom), He saves “through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Absolutely necessary, because of the completeness of our condition from Titus 3:3. And absolutely free because of the perfection of God’s character from Titus 3:4. God makes us NEW!

But how can the righteous God give such a work of such a Spirit to such sinners as we are? Titus 3:6 answers, “through Jesus Christ our Savior.” The perfection of Christ in our stead is such that through Him, God’s giving us His Spirit is described here as an “abundant pouring out on us”!

Now… you may have run into the idea (or even, from your own flesh, had the idea) that emphasizing Christians’ good works is somehow incompatible with emphasizing God’s grace. But nothing could be more opposite the truth! For the God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—who finds us in the condition in Titus 3:3 is too gracious, too powerful, too good to leave us in that condition.

When God justifies us with Himself, in Christ, by the work of His Spirit, He makes us to live expectantly, as those who have a sure hope of eternal life. Those who live by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. Those who live under the washing work of the Holy Spirit. Those who now do those works of righteousness that they possessed none of apart from Christ!

This is why you must maintain good works. This is why you must be careful to maintain good works. This is why preachers must affirm that those who have believed in God must be careful to maintain good works. This is why preachers must constantly affirm that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. (Titus 3:8)

It is good and profitable men to hear and embrace the whole gospel, leaving out no part of God’s great salvation in Christ, by His Spirit.

Why did you need to be regenerated? Why did God save you? Where is that salvation showing up in your life?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH426 “How Vast the Benefits Divine”

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”