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

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

2021.06.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 15:13–37

Read 2 Samuel 15:13–37

Questions from the Scripture text: Who comes to David in 2 Samuel 15:13? What does he tell him? To whom does David speak in 2 Samuel 15:14? What does he tell them to do? What does he need to do with them? Or else what will happen? What would Absalom do to the city? Who speak to whom in 2 Samuel 15:15? What are they ready to do? Where does the king go (2 Samuel 15:16)? With whom? Without whom? Where does he stop in 2 Samuel 15:17? What do they do there (2 Samuel 15:18)? Which ethnicities are specifically mentioned? And especially how many from where? Whom does the king specifically mention in 2 Samuel 15:19? What does he tell him to do? Why? What doesn’t the king want Ittai to have to do (2 Samuel 15:20)? What blessing does the king pronounce upon him? By whose lives does Ittai vow in 2 Samuel 15:21? What does he vow? Who are involved in this vow (2 Samuel 15:22)? What is the procession like, when they begin moving again (2 Samuel 15:23)? Over what do they cross? Toward what? Who else came (2 Samuel 15:24)? What did they have? What did the king tell him to do with it (2 Samuel 15:25)? What did he hope to find instead? How would he know if he found favor? But what might the opposite outcome be (2 Samuel 15:26)? And to what would the king submit in that case? What two offices does David recognize in Zadok (2 Samuel 15:27)? Where does he tell him to fulfill those offices? With whom attending him? What would David do (2 Samuel 15:28)? For whose Word, especially, would David be waiting? What do Zadok and Abiathar do (2 Samuel 15:29)? Now where does David go (2 Samuel 15:30)? Doing what? How else is his mourning expressed? Who joins him in it? What does someone say now in 2 Samuel 15:31? To Whom does David respond? For what does he ask? What does David do, when he gets to the top of Olivette (2 Samuel 15:32)? And who overtakes him there? Doing what? What does David say Hushai would be, if he went along (2 Samuel 15:33)? What does David suggest for him to say (2 Samuel 15:34, but cp. what he actually says in 2 Samuel 16:162 Samuel 16:18-19)? What effect does David hope Hushai can have? What communication chain does he set up for the spy network (2 Samuel 15:35-36)? What does 2 Samuel 15:37 call Hushai? Right before whom does he arrive?

The scene in the narrative now shifts from Absalom’s contingent to David’s contingent. The first verse gives us the transition—a messenger comes from one to the other saying, “the hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.” And yet, there are many indicators in the rest of the passage (and in following passages) that the heart of Yahweh is with David. We see the Lord’s mercy to David in several little vignettes.

First, there’s the loyalty of his servants—and especially of Ittai—in 2 Samuel 16:15-22. The Holy Spirit drops into 2 Samuel 16:18 that the six hundred Gittites “had followed him from Gath.” We’re reminded of the seed promise, going back to Genesis 3:15, and reinforced through Noah and Abraham. 

There is One coming in Whom all the earth would be blessed. We’re reminded of that little clause in Exodus 12:38, “A mixed multitude went up with them also.” Now here are six hundred Philistines with God’s anointed. He has chosen to bring the Christ through David, and this is just a foretaste of the gathering in of the nations. David tries to send them home, but Ittai the former-Philistine is all-in on Yahweh and His anointed (2 Samuel 16:22). 

This Ruth-Naomi moment between David and Ittai also reminds us that David has been on the run before. Yet, the Lord was with him then (giving him these six hundred faithful Gittites), and the Lord is mercifully with him now (strengthening him through their continued allegiance). When we find ourselves in moments of difficulty—even as consequences of our sin—we are attended by our God, Who for thousands of years has specialized in doing His people good through such moments.

The second vignette comes when David crosses over the Kidron (2 Samuel 16:23), and the Levites arrive. All the Levites. And the ark. What does it matter if all the nation is against you (2 Samuel 16:13), if God’s presence (here expressed in His priesthood and the mercy seat) is for you (2 Samuel 16:24, ff; cf. Romans 8:31)? 

David remembers that it is not Yahweh’s furniture that he needs so much as Yahweh’s favor (2 Samuel 16:25, cf. 1 Samuel 4), and actually sends the priests and the ark back into Jerusalem. This way, not only will the gospel ministry of the priests continue by way of the sacrifices of the tabernacle service, but Zadok the preacher will also be there to minister the Word (2 Samuel 16:27). And, if Word comes from God, Zadok can send it by way of his sons (2 Samuel 16:28).

The third vignette comes just a little ways farther, on the way up the Mount of Olives. Only at this point does David learn of the treachery of Ahithophel (2 Samuel 16:31), which compels a desperate cry of prayer that is already being answered. David crests the hill and pauses for worship (2 Samuel 16:32a), which is itself an indicator of grace. How many would pause for the worship of God in the midst of a hurried retreat/escape?

But he’s still in the middle of it, almost certainly repeating the prayer of 2 Samuel 16:31, when the prayer is answered. One look at his torn robe and dusty head (2 Samuel 16:32b) puts to rest any worries about whether Hushai has also betrayed him. David suggests that Hushai offer his services to Absalom  as a way of defeating the counsel of Ahithophel (2 Samuel 16:34, but we’ll see how Hushai sticks to the truth in 2 Samuel 16:16–19). David quickly organizes the spy network in 2 Samuel 16:35-36, and the narrative concludes with the “camera” following Hushai back down Olivette, back over the Kidron, and into Jerusalem, where Absalom shortly arrives (2 Samuel 16:37). The final note about Hushai, “the friend of David,” reminds us that God is often doing us good through people whom we can’t have with us or can’t see doing their good to us.

All of this is a great encouragement: it matters not how skilled and powerful are those who are against you, if you have the Lord with you. And it is especially an encouragement, because it is a display of great grace. Remember from chapter 12 that this is all occurring as a disciplinary action from the Lord for the incident with Bathsheba and Uriah. What a blessed glimpse of the ways of our God, Who rules and overrules all things for our good—even in the midst of disciplining us for sin.

In what situations have powerful, influential, and/or skilled enemies organized themselves against you? For what might the Lord be disciplining you? Even if that’s the case, what hope do you have in the midst of it?

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


Tuesday, June 22, 2021

2021.06.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Revelation 6:9–17

Read Revelation 6:9–17

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the Lamb open in Revelation 6:9? What did John see? Where? What had been done to them? For what two things? What were they doing (Revelation 6:10)? With what kind of voice? What were they asking? What did they call the Lord? What did they want Him to do? What was given to each of them (Revelation 6:11)? What was said to them? Until what were they to rest? What two numbers are mentioned? What does the Lamb open in Revelation 6:12? What happens on earth? What happens to the sun? What happens to the moon? What happens to the stars (Revelation 6:13)? In what manner? What happens to the sky (Revelation 6:14)? What happens to every mountain? What happens to every island? What seven types of men does Revelation 6:15 mention? What do they do? What do they say to what in Revelation 6:16? From Whom are they desperate to be hidden? What day has come (Revelation 6:17)? What is the presumed answer to the question in verse 17b?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Revelation 6:9–17, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with When This Passing World Is Done

We live in an age of longing. On earth, the creation groans (cf. Romans 8:22), and those who have the firstfruits of the Spirit groan (cf. Romans 8:23), and the Spirit Himself groans (cf. Romans 8:26). In heaven, glorified souls cry out how long (Revelation 6:10). They have white robes already, but the answer to the “how long” question is that there are two numbers that must be completed.

The first number is the number of their fellow-servants. Here is the doctrine of election unto salvation. God has an exact number whom He is saving, and the end of this age is waiting for its completion. 

The second number is the number of their brethren who would be killed as they were. Here is the doctrine of divine providence. The Lord has assigned to each of us a cross. Those for whom that cross is to be murdered for the faith are a number that has been established by God. How much each of us may be helped in taking up our own cross by the knowledge that our Redeemer has specifically selected it for us!

But this is the age of faith. And it will be followed by the age of sight. We will see the horror that awaits every last one who is not among those servants and brethren mentioned in Revelation 6:11. The earth that seemed so reliable to them will become a great, quavering instability. The heavens to which they looked will host darkness and death (Revelation 6:12) and fall to pieces (Revelation 6:13). They who lived as if God and the Lamb did not exist, did not see, did not judge… they will cry out for shelter that they will never obtain (Revelation 6:16). None will be spared, from the highest of kings to the lowest of slaves (Revelation 6:15).

When believers see what comes upon all the rest of humanity, how greatly will they marvel at what the Lamb has done for them! But when they see Him Who sits on the throne and the Lamb, how greatly will they marvel at what the Lamb has won for them!

It is the age of faith—substance of things hoped for and evidence of things not seen. And already those who believe marvel at what God has done for them. But when faith becomes sight, we will know it much better still.

How much do you long for the day of Christ’s wrath? What will you learn then about yourself?

Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH470 “When This Passing World Is Done”


Monday, June 21, 2021

2021.06.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 2:18–27

Read Joel 2:18–27

Questions from the Scripture text: What two things will Yahweh do (Joel 2:18), when His people have repented as instructed in Joel 2:12-17? What will He say (Joel 2:19)? What will He do? What will He stop doing? What will He do to the invader (Joel 2:20)? With what effect? Why—what effect has the invader had? What should the land stop doing (Joel 2:21)? What should the land start doing? Why—Who else has had the same effect in verse 21 as the invader has in Joel 2:20? Who else is not to fear (Joel 2:22)? Why? Who are to do what in Joel 2:23a? In what (Whom!), especially, are they to rejoice (verse 23b)? How will the drought conclude (verse 23c–d)? With what results (Joel 2:23-24)? How will the restoration occur (Joel 2:25a)? With what effects (Joel 2:25b–Joel 2:26a)? How will the people then respond (verse 26b)? Why (verse 26c)? With what effects (verse 26d)? What will they then know about God’s active presence (Joel 2:27a)? And about His relationship with them (verse 27b)? And about Him (verse 27c)? With what (again) effect (verse 27d)?

In these ten verses, we have the response of the Lord to the repentance that He has commanded, and that they have evidently followed: reaction (Joel 2:18), refreshment (Joel 2:19a–c), restoration (Joel 2:19d–Joel 2:20), rejoicing (Joel 2:21-23b), redemption (Joel 2:23 c-Joel 2:25), reverence (Joel 2:26), and reconciliation (Joel 2:27).

Reaction (Joel 2:18). The Lord has commanded His people to repent with their hearts, and He responds to our repentance with zeal and pity. There is in God that perfect disposition toward His repenting people of which the most intense human zeal and the warmest human compassion are just a copy. What a marvelous “reaction” from our God!

Refreshment (Joel 2:19a–c). Whereas the Lord had used His creation to make His people feel their neediness of Him, He now uses it to make them feel His abundance for that need. The covenant relationship is restored, the covenant blessings begin to flow again, and not just in the renewed supply (verse 19b) but in a renewed satisfaction (verse 19c). Of course, the first provision isn’t actually grain and new wine and oil, but the Word (verse 19a, “Yahweh will answer and say to His people). Now the resurrected Redeemer refreshes His people in Word and sacrament, giving them not merely sounds in their ears and snacks in their mouths, but giving Himself to their souls.

Restoration (Joel 2:19d-Joel 2:20). With the covenant relation restored, the Lord takes away their shame (verse 19d, cf. Joel 2:26d, Joel 2:27d); they no longer appear as a people under judgment. Instead, those by whose mandibles He had judged them now themselves come under judgment. There will always be vindication and vengeance for you, dear believer, even if you deserved and needed what the enemy has done to you. 

Rejoicing (Joel 2:21-23 b). We had seen in chapter 1 that the land mourned (Joel 1:10), and the beasts groaned (Joel 1:18), in order to help the farmers, the priests, and indeed all of the people to mourn for the lack of their joy in the Lord. In a real sense, the earth and its creatures had been cursed for their sake. And now that it’s time for the people to rejoice, He once again uses the land and its creatures to lead the way. The greatness of the restoration (Joel 2:21c) has exceeded the greatness of the chastening (Joel 2:20g). The time for fear has passed, the time for gladness and rejoicing has come! 

Redemption (Joel 2:23c–Joel 2:25). The children of Zion are brought to rejoice in Yahweh their God not only by circumstances, but again by words, and indeed by a great Preacher. There’s a play on words in verse 23c that is obscured by our version. It uses a homonym so that the same form for “former rain” in verse 23e should probably be “teacher” in verse 23c, and that line should read “For He has given you the Righteous Teacher.” 

The Lord uses His Word to bring His people back and to announce to them their blessedness. Though this surely included Joel himself, and those priests who fulfilled his prophecy’s call upon them, it is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ, our great Prophet and Righteous Teacher.

Not only does God’s Righteous Teacher bring us back, but the years that we spent in error or under discipline are not ultimately lost. As the blessing of God starts to pour back down (Joel 2:23d–e), there is enough both for the moment and for filling/overflowing the storage (Joel 2:24), until the effects of the locust army are entirely reversed (Joel 2:25). 

It is the opposite of Pharaoh’s dream that Joseph interprets in Genesis 41; this is fullness so great that it wipes out the effects of the famine. This is God’s way with His repenting people; He takes away their grief by bringing them to a better place than they would have been in if they had been steady from the start.

Reverence (Joel 2:26). The ultimate blessing, however, is satisfaction with God and adoring of God. It’s one thing to eat plenty, but many people do so without contentment; it is a separate and greater gift to be satisfied (verse 26a). And it is one thing to be satisfied with God’s gifts, but it is a separate and greater gift to be satisfied with the God of the gifts Himself (verse 26b). Being restored to a God-delighted worshiper is the greatest blessing of all. God brings us into the true riches when He brings us into reverence! This is God’s great work on earth (verse 26c), and those who are made worshipers in this way will find their joy to be full and forever (verse 26d, cf. Romans 10:11). 

Reconciliation (Joel 2:27). Indeed, for the one who has been brought to treasure God above all else, there is one blessing higher than the privilege of adoring God; and, that is the communicated presence of the God he adores. Yahweh Himself in their midst (verse 27a), Yahweh Himself as their own (verse 27b–c)—that is the ultimate, full-and-forever blessedness of the people of God (verse 27d). 

Of what do you need to repent? How does desire for these blessings encourage this repentance? 

Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH73C “In Sweet Communion, Lord with Thee”

 

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Maturity Presses On (2021.06.20 Evening Sermon in Philippians 3:!5–17)

Christian maturity is not the state of having attained, but of recognizing that you haven't and pressing onward and upward unto the perfection of Christ Jesus, by the grace of Christ Jesus.

God's Response to Repentance (2021.06.20 Morning Sermon in Joel 2:18–27)


The Lord responds to our repentance with the greatest possible blessings in this life and the life to come


WCF 15.2.1, pt 1, What True Repentance Sees and Senses (2021.06.20 Sabbath School)

By repentance unto life, a sinner, out of the sight and sense not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the holy nature and righteous law of God; and upon the apprehension of his mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, so grieves for, and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God

Saturday, June 19, 2021

2021.06.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 2:18–27

Read Joel 2:18–27

Questions from the Scripture text: What two things will Yahweh do (Joel 2:18), when His people have repented as instructed in Joel 2:12-17? What will He say (Joel 2:19)? What will He do? What will He stop doing? What will He do to the invader (Joel 2:20)? With what effect? Why—what effect has the invader had? What should the land stop doing (Joel 2:21? What should the land start doing? Why—Who else has had the same effect in verse 21 as the invader has in Joel 2:20? Who else is not to fear (Joel 2:22)? Why? Who are to do what in Joel 2:23a? In what (Whom!), especially, are they to rejoice (verse 23b)? How will the drought conclude (verse 23c–d)? With what results (Joel 2:23-24)? How will the restoration occur (Joel 2:25a)? With what effects (Joel 2:25b–Joel 2:26a)? How will the people then respond (verse 26b)? Why (verse 26c)? With what effects (verse 26d)? What will they then know about God’s active presence (Joel 2:27a)? And about His relationship with them (verse 27b)? And about Him (verse 27c)? With what (again) effect (verse 27d)? 

In these ten verses, we have the response of the Lord to the repentance that He has commanded, and that they have evidently followed: reaction (Joel 2:18), refreshment (Joel 2:19a–c), restoration (Joel 2:19d–Joel 2:20), rejoicing (Joel 2:21-23b), redemption (Joel 2:23c–Joel 2:25), reverence (Joel 2:26), and reconciliation (Joel 2:27).

Reaction (Joel 2:18). The Lord has commanded His people to repent with their hearts, and He responds to our repentance with zeal and pity. There is in God that perfect disposition toward His repenting people of which the most intense human zeal and the warmest human compassion are just a copy. What a marvelous “reaction” from our God!

Refreshment (Joel 2:19a–c). Whereas the Lord had used His creation to make His people feel their neediness of Him, He now uses it to make them feel His abundance for that need. The covenant relationship is restored, the covenant blessings begin to flow again, and not just in the renewed supply (verse 19b) but in a renewed satisfaction (verse 19c). Of course, the first provision isn’t actually grain and new wine and oil, but the Word (verse 19a, “Yahweh will answer and say to His people). Now the resurrected Redeemer refreshes His people in Word and sacrament, giving them not merely sounds in their ears and snacks in their mouths, but giving Himself to their souls.

Restoration (Joel 2:19d–Joel 2:20). With the covenant relation restored, the Lord takes away their shame (Joel 2:19d, cf. Joel 2:26d, Joel 2:27d); they no longer appear as a people under judgment. Instead, those by whose mandibles He had judged them now themselves come under judgment. There will always be vindication and vengeance for you, dear believer, even if you deserved and needed what the enemy has done to you. 

Rejoicing (Joel 2:21-23b). We had seen in chapter 1 that the land mourned (Joel 1:10), and the beasts groaned (Joel 1:18), in order to help the farmers, the priests, and indeed all of the people to mourn for the lack of their joy in the Lord. In a real sense, the earth and its creatures had been cursed for their sake. And now that it’s time for the people to rejoice, He once again uses the land and its creatures to lead the way. The greatness of the restoration (Joel 2:21c) has exceeded the greatness of the chastening (Joel 2:20g). The time for fear has passed, the time for gladness and rejoicing has come! 

Redemption (Joel 2:23c–Joel 2:25). The children of Zion are brought to rejoice in Yahweh their God not only by circumstances, but again by words, and indeed by a great Preacher. There’s a play on words in Joel 2:23c that is obscured by our version. It uses a homonym so that the same form for “former rain” in verse 23e should probably be “teacher” in verse 23c, and that line should read “For He has given you the Righteous Teacher.” 

The Lord uses His Word to bring His people back and to announce to them their blessedness. Though this surely included Joel himself, and those priests who fulfilled his prophecy’s call upon them, it is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ, our great Prophet and Righteous Teacher.

Not only does God’s Righteous Teacher bring us back, but the years that we spent in error or under discipline are not ultimately lost. As the blessing of God starts to pour back down (Joel 2:23d–e), there is enough both for the moment and for filling/overflowing the storage (Joel 2:24), until the effects of the locust army are entirely reversed (Joel 2:25). 

It is the opposite of Pharaoh’s dream that Joseph interprets in Genesis 41; this is fullness so great that it wipes out the effects of the famine. This is God’s way with His repenting people; He takes away their grief by bringing them to a better place than they would have been in if they had been steady from the start.

Reverence (Joel 2:26). The ultimate blessing, however, is satisfaction with God and adoring of God. It’s one thing to eat plenty, but many people do so without contentment; it is a separate and greater gift to be satisfied (verse 26a). And it is one thing to be satisfied with God’s gifts, but it is a separate and greater gift to be satisfied with the God of the gifts Himself (verse 26b). Being restored to a God-delighted worshiper is the greatest blessing of all. God brings us into the true riches when He brings us into reverence! This is God’s great work on earth (verse 26c), and those who are made worshipers in this way will find their joy to be full and forever (verse 26d, cf. Romans 10:11). 

Reconciliation (Joel 2:27). Indeed, for the one who has been brought to treasure God above all else, there is one blessing higher than the privilege of adoring God; and, that is the communicated presence of the God he adores. Yahweh Himself in their midst (verse 27a), Yahweh Himself as their own (verse 27b–c)—that is the ultimate, full-and-forever blessedness of the people of God (verse 27d).

Of what do you need to repent? How does desire for these blessings encourage and begin this repentance?

Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH73C “In Sweet Communion, Lord with Thee”

 

Friday, June 18, 2021

Our King's Joy (2021.06.16 Prayer Meeting Lesson)

God's blessing in Christ: more than we can ask or think, bound up in Christ's glory and gladness, and demanding of frightful curse upon all who remain His enemies. The strength of the Lord is our joy, and the joy of the Lord is our strength!

2021.06.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 3:15–17

Read Philippians 3:15–17

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does the apostle now address (Philippians 3:15)? Whom does he include in this group? What are they to have? Who will do what if they think otherwise? What are they to do with whatever they have already attained (Philippians 3:16)? By what should they walk? What should they be? Now whom does the apostle address in Philippians 3:17? What does he tell them to do? And at whom else to look? For what purpose has God given the apostle and such other men?

The apostle has just described himself as not satisfied with himself but rather straining forward and eager to have more and more satisfaction in the infinitely satisfying God in Christ Jesus. 

How every mature believer thinks, Philippians 3:15a.

Now in v15, the apostle defines mature believers as those who have that mindset and urges every last one of them to maintain that mindset. That is to say that they continually pursue Christ Himself for His mindset to be in them (cf. Philippians 2:1–11).

So that it can be verified that they are mature, Philippians 3:15b.

How deep are the effects upon our minds and hearts of remaining sin! The apostle says in verse 15b that it’s possible to think that you are satisfied with Christ rather than self, and to think that you are straining forward eagerly for more of Him, and to be wrong! Our hearts are deceitful above all things. But God is all-wise to know them. And He is gracious. There is a marvelous promise here. We can look to God to help us see where we are self-deceived. Let us always be seeking for the Lord to reveal to us if we are actually self-satisfied rather than Christ-satisfied.

So that we can live it out, Philippians 3:16.

Whatever point we are at in our maturity, and whatever level of self-awareness God has given us, it must not remain only a way of thinking. It must be a way of walking, a way of living. Don’t just think that you depend entirely upon Christ and need more of Christ. Live dependently and desperately for Christ! Live in the way the apostle has described himself in Philippians 3:12-14.

So that other believers have as many good examples as possible to follow, Philippians 3:17.

In Philippians 3:15, the apostle had addressed “as many as are mature.” Now, he broadens that target-audience with the word “brethren.” 

All believers (Philippians 3:17) are to join the mature believers (Philippians 3:15) in following the apostle’s example of running hard after Christ (Philippians 3:12-14). And now that the apostle has given the instruction in Philippians 3:15-16, he can include a multitude of other examples for the brethren: “Note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.”

If you are mature, you are not mature for yourself. You are mature for Christ. You are mature for the church’s sake. “You have us for a pattern,” the apostle says. Maturity in Christ is maturity that comes from Christ for the purposes of Christ. And a big part of that purpose is to give the rest of His flock a pattern.

How are you walking in dependence upon, satisfaction with, and devotion to Christ? What examples do you have in your household, or in your congregation, of others who are doing so already?

Suggested songs: ARP119W “Lord, Let My Cry before You Come” or TPH429 “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”


Thursday, June 17, 2021

2021.06.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 19:28–40

Read Luke 19:28–40

Questions from the Scripture text: Where was Jesus going (Luke 19:28)? To where did He draw near (Luke 19:29)? Where was he? Whom did He send? Where did He send them (Luke 19:30)? What would they find? What does He command them to do? What might someone ask (Luke 19:31)? What should they answer? Who went (Luke 19:32)? What did they find? What happened (Luke 19:33)? How did they respond (Luke 19:34)? Where did they bring the colt (Luke 19:35)? What did they do to it? What did they do to Jesus? What did others do (Luke 19:36)? To where was He nearing in Luke 19:37? Who began to do what? Why? What did they call Jesus (Luke 19:38)? What did they pronounce upon Him? What did they say He was doing? What other blessings did they pronounce where? Who else spoke in Luke 19:39? To Whom? What did they tell Him to do? What did Jesus do (Luke 19:40)? What did He say would happen on what condition? 

Many of us probably have the same impression: that the triumphal entry crowd spontaneously burst into praise. As the Holy Spirit carries Luke along, however, He is making the exact opposite point: this is a setup. 

Jesus has had His face set to Jerusalem for ten chapters (Luke 19:28, cf. Luke 9:51). Now, Jesus brings the protracted journey to a halt two miles out in Luke 19:29, so that he can set up the entry. He Who is like us in every way, except without sin, in dependence upon the Spirit Whom He has in full measure, knows what is going to happen. 

Jesus has set up the colt (Luke 19:30). Jesus has set up its never having been sat upon. Jesus has set up its submissiveness to its Creator when sat upon. Jesus has set up its being tied. Jesus has set up its watchers’ response when it starts to be untied (Luke 19:31). Jesus has set up their recognition of His lordship. Jesus has set up their accommodation of His transportation needs. 

Luke summarizes this, “[they] found it just as He had said to them” (Luke 19:32). Then he goes on to give us two more verses of things continuing just as we have just read that Jesus said.

So, it’s a setup. Yes, it’s marvelous that the “whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice” (Luke 19:37). But, it’s not spontaneous. Jesus intentionally provokes this outburst of praise. Jesus has come to Jerusalem to be the stone that the builders rejected, and He’s going to use His praise prophesied in Psalm 118:38) to provoke the rejection prophesied in Psalm 118:22

This is why He’s come to Jerusalem. In fact, this is why He’s come to earth at all, as Luke 19:38 quotes from Luke 2:14. In fact, Jesus provokes the crowd to praise in Luke 19:29-38 in part because it is so necessary that this be what the “builders” (Pharisees, Luke 19:39) reject that the stones themselves would cry out (Luke 19:40).

Living stones or mineralized stones, one way or another, there will be crying out! And indeed, when the Jews join the nations, they will silence Him (cf. Psalm 118:10–11; Psalm 2:1–2; Acts 4:25–28), but He will be declared the Son of God with power, when He comes out of the grave, and the stone rolls away (cf. Psalm 2:7, Romans 1:4, Acts 2:22–32). The stones cried out on the resurrection day. But now we are living stones, who keep crying out, and can never be silenced! (cf. 1 Peter 2:4–7, Psalm 118:22–24).

So, when you think of this passage, think of how your Redeemer King was provoking necessary praise in order to provoke His atoning death, so that we might increasingly echo that praise of a resurrected Redeemer today, for the rest of our lives, and through all eternity!

What/Who is in control? What has He done? Where is He now? How are you responding to Him?

Suggested Songs: ARP16A “Keep Me, O God” or TPH508 “Jesus, Priceless Treasure”


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

2021.06.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 15:1–12

Read 2 Samuel 15:1–12

Questions from the Scripture text: With what does Absalom provide himself in 2 Samuel 15:1? Like what status of person is he acting? What would he do (2 Samuel 15:2)? Where would he go? Whom would he intercept? What were they looking for? What would he ask them? What would he tell them, regardless of the merits of the case (2 Samuel 15:3)? What would he tell them they could not do/have on that day? Then whom would he moan would be a better judge/king (2 Samuel 15:4)? What would some people come near to do (2 Samuel 15:5)? What would Absalom do instead? To how many did Absalom act this way (2 Samuel 15:6)? How vigorous and vocal would such people likely be? What was Absalom doing by all this? To what age (if the number is 40; or, for how long, if the number is 4) did Absalom do this (2 Samuel 15:7)? What does he now ask the king? How does he ask it (2 Samuel 15:7-8)? Whom is he implicitly complimenting for a good decision? What is he implying about his spiritual life? Whom is he suggesting is in favor of all this? How does the king respond in 2 Samuel 15:9? Where does Absalom go? From there, whom does he send where (2 Samuel 15:10)? What signal had they chosen? What were they to do when they heard it? From where did Absalom invite men in 2 Samuel 15:11? How many? What does this verse make sure to say about them? For whom especially did Absalom send (2 Samuel 15:12)? What job had he held? Where was David? How does verse 12 summarize this entire event?

God’s promised judgment against David, in 2 Samuel 12:10–12, keeps building toward its climax… not with spear and sword but with smile and sneer.

Absalom has added throwing kingly parades (2 Samuel 15:1) to the machinery increasing his celebrity stock (cf. 2 Samuel 14:25–27). 

Next, he stands outside the gate, which functions as the courthouse, and intercepts anyone on their way in to let them know that they have a new friend (2 Samuel 15:2). He adds that their case is of course right (2 Samuel 15:3a, apparently, Absalom never heard a weak case; he’s in favor of all of them!), but as a strange occurrence of providence there’s no one in today who would listen to them (verse 3b, with Absalom apparently turning every case away, there must have been some pretty frustrated people, and some pretty underworked judges).

There’s an easy solution ready-to-hand, however, and (surprise, surprise) that solution is Absalom (2 Samuel 15:4)! After all, he’s not so high on himself to accept groveling (2 Samuel 15:5a), but rather a real man of the people (verse 5b). It’s a pretty cheesy snow job, but turns out highly effective (2 Samuel 15:6).

There’s a manuscript issue, but even if it’s just four years (as likely) in 2 Samuel 15:7, that’s still a pretty patient long-game for Absalom to play. He may be wicked as the devil, but no one can accuse him of being lazy! 

Or stupid. He dresses the whole thing up in integrity (vow keeping) and piety… this was a vow to Yahweh (2 Samuel 15:7), gives credit to Yahweh for His good providence (2 Samuel 15:8a), and promises devotion to Yahweh as a response (verse 8b). Here’s a wicked man, about to do something for which he will pay with his life and soul, but he can talk all godly-and-reformed with the best of them. Sometimes a politician’s biblical-sounding speech isn’t blessing but great judgment. And let us not presume our own biblical-sounding speech is spotless either.

By the time we get to 2 Samuel 15:10-12, the long, slow buildup has now accelerated to imminent impact. Trumpets are ready (2 Samuel 15:10a). Coup supporters have been planted and spread throughout the kingdom (verse 10b), key supporters of the crown have been taken out of the picture (2 Samuel 15:11), and David’s top man is now Absalom’s top man (2 Samuel 15:12).

It’s all about to fall. What will happen? We find ourselves in such days from time to time. As touches his nation and many of the churches in it, the author of this devotional finds himself in such days at the time of writing. 

What will happen? Exactly what our good and merciful God has determined to happen. The shadow of 2 Samuel 12:10–12 over this passage reminds us that it comes from Him. But this is always true! And His purposes in it are always for the building of His church unto His great glory in Christ! Christ is the King that never needs punished, and can never be dethroned!

What slick religious words have you heard or used to mask other intentions? When smooth operators have been wreaking havoc in home, church, or state, Who has been superintending all of it? Who is your King, and how does that stabilize you in tumultuous times?

Suggested songs: ARP72A “God, Give Your Judgments to the King” or TPH281 “Rejoice, the Lord is King”


Tuesday, June 15, 2021

2021.06.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Revelation 7:9–17

Read Revelation 7:9–17

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom did the apostle see in Revelation 7:9? In what were they clothed? What were they crying out in Revelation 7:10? With what kind of voice? Who respond to this in Revelation 7:11? What do they do? What do they say in Revelation 7:12? Who asks John a question in Revelation 7:13? How does John answer in Revelation 7:14? Whom does the elder say they are? In what have they washed their robes? Where are they (Revelation 7:15)? What do they do? When? What does “He who sits on the throne” do? What two things won’t they do anymore (Revelation 7:16)? What two things won’t strike them? Who is in the midst of the throne (Revelation 7:17)? What will He do to them? Where will He lead them? What will God do to them?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Revelation 7:9–17, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Who Are These Like Stars Appearing

The great multitude of v9 is that great cloud of witnesses of Hebrews 12:1, who have obtained a good witness (Hebrews 11:39), and received their white robes (Revelation 7:9Revelation 7:13) back in Revelation 6:11 as those holding that good testimony of Revelation 6:9.

What an encouragement this multitude would be to us if we could see them! Well, we can both see them, and especially hear them, in this passage by faith! By the Spirit’s convincing you of the reality of Revelation 7:10-12, He sets before you again that marvelous encouragement of Hebrews 11:39–12:2 and Hebrews 12:22–24 but this time with perhaps even more dazzling, heavenly spectacle.

How great the multitude (Revelation 7:9a)! How diverse (verse 9b)! How marvelously attired (verse 9c)! How loud their crying out! How victorious their praise (Revelation 7:10)! How humbled before God (Revelation 7:11)! How lavish in adoring Him (Revelation 7:12)! How relieved from their trial (Revelation 7:14)! How continual in their service to Him and content in their fellowship with Him (Revelation 7:15)! How impervious to and protected from any danger (Revelation 7:16)! How personally attended to, lavished upon, and comforted by the Lamb and God (Revelation 7:17)!

What an encouragement to our persevering—especially since He Who sits upon the throne is the Perfecter of this faith that He has authored in us! Cling to Him! Already, He is sustaining you, and stirring your heart to worship; He will preserve you, and He is worthy of all your devotion in worship and life. And behold how He will perfect you. Cling to Him!

In what circumstance do you need encouragement to endure? What parts of the blessedness in this passage are most encouraging to you? What parts of it do you already enjoy? How often do you think about glory?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH469 “Who Are These Like Stars Appearing?”


Monday, June 14, 2021

Straining Forward and Upward for Christ's Perfection (2021.06.13 Evening Sermon in Philippians 3:12–17)

Self-satisfaction is the opposite of Christianity, because Christ has laid hold of believers so that they would ultimately lay hold of perfection in Him. Mature believers will be straining forward and upward to Him.

Allured to True Repentance by God's Gracious Character (2021.06.13 Morning Sermon in Joel 2:12–17)


The Lord makes us grieve our having turned from Him, so that seeing His gracious character we will turn to Him in the way that He says to do so. O turn to the Lord, entirely and sincerely, for His great graciousness is glorified by receiving You and blessing You, together with all that holy assembly, whom He has set apart for His own glory!


WCF 15.1, Repentance unto Life Is a Gospel Gift that Must Be Preached (2021.06.13 Sabbath School lesson)

Mourning over sin is a gift of gospel grace that comes in/with/from Christ and His redemption. The way repentance unto life comes is by the Spirit, using words. And this is for the nations, not just for Israel. The entire Bible teaches repentance unto life, which all preachers must preach, and which the promised Spirit attends with almighty power. Repentance and remission (forgiveness) is the message of their mission. Jesus's preaching of the gospel of the kingdom is summarized, "repent, and believe." Preachers who do not preach repentance are holding back God's saving Word and guilty of the blood of their hearers.

2021.06.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 2:12–17

Read Joel 2:12–17

Questions from the Scripture text: Who is speaking in Joel 2:12? What does He say to do? With how much of what? And with what three activities? What does He tell them to tear/rend (Joel 2:13)? And to what to return? For what four characteristics of the Lord, and what one action? What is still a possibility (Joel 2:14)? What form would such a blessing take? What does He tell them to blow (Joel 2:15)? Where? What to consecrate? What to call? Whom to gather (Joel 2:16)? Whom to sanctify? Whom to assemble? Whom else to gather? And which two specific people from which locations? Whom does Joel 2:17 address? What are they to do where? Who gives them what to pray? Whom are they to pray that they would be spared? Whom not to be given to reproach? What would this reproach look like? And then what would be said among whom?

To what to repent, Joel 2:12a–b, Joel 2:13b. Often, we focus upon from what we are to repent. But the focus here is almost entirely upon to Whom we are to repent. The main thing, after all, isn’t leaving the sin—though that is absolutely necessary. The main thing is coming to the Lord!

In what manner to repent, Joel 2:12b–Joel 2:13a. With all your heart. With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. Rending your heart and not your garments. There are half-hearted things that look like repentance but aren’t. There’s repentance that has the appearance of intensity and the indicated actions, but isn’t genuine. But the Lord commands repentance that is intense complete (Joel 2:12b), intense (verse 12c), and genuinely from the soul.

Why to repent, Joel 2:13c–e. Because of how wonderful this God is to Whom we are turning! Look at His graciousness! Look at how merciful/compassionate He is! Look at how patient and slow to anger! Look at His exceeding covenant love! Look at His forgiveness! Truly, this is a God worth turning to, and He is worthy of the glory that we will magnify by turning to Him. 

On what basis to repent (Joel 2:14). We repent on the basis of God’s freedom to bless (Joel 2:14a–b). Repentance does not manipulate Him or force His hand (indeed, He is the One Who gives it, cf. Acts 11:18). Rather, it lays hold of His freedom in which He delights to display the character described in Joel 2:13 (cf. Romans 9:23–24). We know that He loves to forgive, so we play into His free pleasure when we come to Him in repentance.

With whom to repent, Joel 2:15-16. The entire holy assembly. The people. The congregation. The elders. The children. The nursing babes (there’s no one to young/unable). The bridegroom and bride (there’s no one too busy or with a higher-priority activity). Though each must repent from the core of who he is, with all that he is, if you haven’t become part of His holy assembly you have not biblically repented. The truly repentant are not just those who have turned from sin, but especially those who have been gathered unto the Lord with His people.

Through whom to repent, Joel 2:17. Repentance is led by priests, mediators who go between (verse 17a–b). God has given them the office, and God has given them the words. 

Ultimately, God has given us Jesus as our Priest through Whom we come to Him. And He has given us an entire Bible of Jesus’s words with which to do so (cf. 1 Peter 1:11). Repentance is through God Himself and for God Himself. For His people. For His heritage. For His honor among the nations and the peoples.

O dear reader, turn to the Lord, entirely and sincerely, for His great graciousness is glorified by receiving You and blessing You, together with all that holy assembly, whom He has set apart for His own glory! 

Which aspect of biblical repenting in this passage offers you the most room for growth? How will you work on it?

Suggested songs: ARP130 “LORD, from the Depths” or TPH130A “LORD, from the Depths”


Saturday, June 12, 2021

God's Gracious Warnings (2021.06.12 Pastoral Letter and Hopewell Herald)

Hopewell Herald – June 12, 2021

Dear Congregation,

Thank you for your prayers for elder Rentschler and me while we were at General Synod this week. I trust in the Lord to give you an informal report at open mic time tomorrow afternoon and to write up something a little more thorough by next week’s Herald.

Last week, in Joel 2:1–11, we were quite sternly and frighteningly warned against assuming that the Day of the Lord is going to be a good day for us just because we’re part of His church or know some good doctrine.

Such warnings are sometimes unpopular in preaching, and sometimes I even hear people say that that’s “Old Testament preaching” as if the New Testament is different or that strong warnings are somehow incompatible with the gospel.

But complaints like these commit serious errors in themselves. For, the Old Testament and New Testament are from the same God, by the same Spirit, and rich with the same gospel of the Son. If you miss the gospel in the Old Testament, or the warnings in the New, then you’re not reading either one with good understanding.

In tomorrow’s Luke reading, Jesus tells a parable in which the Master wants his servants to be about His business (19:13). He then characterizes as those who hate (!) Him, anyone who does not want to be ruled by Him (v14). Then at the end of the passages, He calls such people “those enemies of mine” and commands for them to be slaughtered (!) in front of Him (v27).

It just will not do to pretend that Jesus is some undemanding, tame teddy-bear of a God-Man.

Luke, Joel, and the entire Bible are clear: if your life isn’t being ruled by Christ, if you are not living in order to be about His business, then Jesus is your enemy, and the Day of the Lord is a day of terror for you. All of the churchianity and grace-speak in the world will do you no good.

But He is a marvelous Redeemer, who has come to seek and to save the lost (cf. Luke 19:10)—which is exactly what He is doing when He alarms you at your sin and guilt, so that His Spirit may also allure you by Him and His grace.

This alluring is what we are looking forward to in Joel 2:12–17 tomorrow!

Looking forward to sitting with you under such a gracious word as we worship our gracious and glorious God,

Pastor

2021.06.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 2:12–17

Read Joel 2:12–17

Questions from the Scripture text: Who is speaking in Joel 2:12? What does He say to do? With how much of what? And with what three activities? What does He tell them to tear/rend (Joel 2:13)? And to what to return? For what four characteristics of the Lord, and what one action? What is still a possibility (Joel 2:14)? What form would such a blessing take? What does He tell them to blow (Joel 2:15)? Where? What to consecrate? What to call? Whom to gather (Joel 2:16)? Whom to sanctify? Whom to assemble? Whom else to gather? And which two specific people from which locations? Whom does Joel 2:17 address? What are they to do where? Who gives them what to pray? Whom are they to pray that they would be spared? Whom not to be given to reproach? What would this reproach look like? And then what would be said among whom? 

To what to repent, Joel 2:12a–b, Joel 2:13b. Often, we focus upon from what we are to repent. But the focus here is almost entirely upon to Whom we are to repent. The main thing, after all, isn’t leaving the sin—though that is absolutely necessary. The main thing is coming to the Lord!

In what manner to repent, Joel 2:12b–Joel 2:13a. With all your heart. With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. Rending your heart and not your garments. There are half-hearted things that look like repentance but aren’t. There’s repentance that has the appearance of intensity and the indicated actions, but isn’t genuine. But the Lord commands repentance that is intense complete (Joel 2:12b), intense (verse 12c), and genuinely from the soul.

Why to repent, Joel 2:13c–e. Because of how wonderful this God is to Whom we are turning! Look at His graciousness! Look at how merciful/compassionate He is! Look at how patient and slow to anger! Look at His exceeding covenant love! Look at His forgiveness! Truly, this is a God worth turning to, and He is worthy of the glory that we will magnify by turning to Him. 

On what basis to repent, Joel 2:14. We repent on the basis of God’s freedom to bless (verse 14a–b). Repentance does not manipulate Him or force His hand (indeed, He is the One Who gives it, cf. Acts 11:18). Rather, it lays hold of His freedom in which He delights to display the character described in Joel 2:13 (cf. Romans 9:23–24). We know that He loves to forgive, so we play into His free pleasure when we come to Him in repentance.

With whom to repent, Joel 2:15-16. The entire holy assembly. The people. The congregation. The elders. The children. The nursing babes (there’s no one to young/unable). The bridegroom and bride (there’s no one too busy or with a higher-priority activity). Though each must repent from the core of who he is, with all that he is, if you haven’t become part of His holy assembly you have not biblically repented. The truly repentant are not just those who have turned from sin, but especially those who have been gathered unto the Lord with His people.

Through whom to repent, Joel 2:17. Repentance is led by priests, mediators who go between (verse 17a–b). God has given them the office, and God has given them the words. 

Ultimately, God has given us Jesus as our Priest through Whom we come to Him. And He has given us an entire Bible of Jesus’s words with which to do so (cf. 1 Peter 1:11). Repentance is through God Himself and for God Himself. For His people. For His heritage. For His honor among the nations and the peoples.

O dear reader, turn to the Lord, entirely and sincerely, for His great graciousness is glorified by receiving You and blessing You, together with all that holy assembly, whom He has set apart for His own glory!

Which aspect of biblical repenting in this passage offers you the most room for growth?

Suggested songs: ARP99A “Let the Nations Tremble” or TPH389 “Great God, What Do I See and Hear!”


Friday, June 11, 2021

2021.06.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 3:12–14

Read Philippians 3:12–14

Questions from the Scripture text: What hasn’t the apostle already done (Philippians 3:12)? What hasn’t already been done to him? So what does he do? In order to lay hold of what? What doesn’t he count himself to have done (Philippians 3:13)? Upon how many things does he focus? What does he forget? In order to reach for what? Toward what does he press (Philippians 3:14)? What is the prize? 

What do we do if only Christ will satisfy us? We keep running until we have completed making Him our own. And we are encouraged to do so, because He has completed making us His own. He completed purchasing us by His blood on the cross, and the moment He unites us to Himself by bringing us to faith, we are as justified as we will ever be (end of Philippians 3:12).

This is the great difference between a believer and a legalist. Those against whom Paul had warned them in Philippians 3:2 were satisfied with themselves. But the apostle is not satisfied with Himself (Philippians 3:12a, Philippians 3:13a), and in verse 13 he adds the word “brethren” to this statement. Here is no self-satisfied legalist telling others how they can be as satisfying as he is. 

No, for the believer, the best is out in front of us. The past was God’s good means of getting us where we are, but neither the past nor the present are to be compared to where we shall be. What would we think of a man who ran a really good half race, and then stopped to admire how well he had done? No, his goal is at the end of the race, and until he gets there that’s where his eyes, his thoughts, his efforts are focused.

Already, he has found Christ satisfying, and so long as he can be more satisfied with Christ, he will press forward to that. So, he urges his beloved brethren to come along with him, to be satisfied not with him nor with themselves, but only with Christ!

Whom do you know that finds Christ satisfying and wants to find Him more satisfying? Whom do you know that is pretty satisfied with himself and thinks everyone else should be like him? Into which one of these categories do you think those who know you would place you?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH508 “Jesus, Priceless Treasure” 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

2021.06.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 19:11–27

Read Luke 19:11–27

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Jesus speak (Luke 19:11)? For what two reasons? Who is the parable about (Luke 19:12)? Where is going to go to do what? Whom does he call (Luke 19:13)? What does he give to them? What does he command them to do with it? How did they respond and why (Luke 19:14)? What did he do when he returned (Luke 19:15)? How did the first servant respond (Luke 19:16)? What did the master entrust to him in response (Luke 19:17)? How did the second respond (Luke 19:18)? What did the master entrust to him (Luke 19:19)? What did another say he had done (Luke 19:20)? Why (Luke 19:21)? About which part of this answer does the master confront him in Luke 19:22? If his accusations were true, what should he have done (Luke 19:23)? What does the master say to do (Luke 19:24)? How do the bystanders respond (Luke 19:25)? What explanation does the master give in Luke 19:26? What does he say to do to the ones who had given the answer in Luke 19:14?  

Disciples in Luke 19:11 (and today) want the kingdom to hurry up right away, but Jesus corrects this.

The Master is going to be gone for a significant time. But He is not idle; He is obtaining a kingdom (Luke 19:12). And He commands us to be busy too (Luke 19:13). In this literary description, Jesus styles those who are not diligent in His business as those who “hate” him and say “we will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14).

So a big part of this text is correcting the desire to have the kingdom right away, or to wait for it while being about your own pleasure.

Speaking of pleasure, Jesus is not at all that severe Master that the wicked servant imagines in Luke 19:20. He is pleased with His servant in Luke 19:17. We all know that the servant has only done what was required (cf. Luke 17:10), but this just makes the graciousness and goodness and generosity of our Lord shine in His, “Well done” (cf. Matthew 25:21). In fact, it is even more abrupt in the original than in the English. 

Yet, Christ’s pleasure isn’t His only stunning response in the parable-picture that He draws here. Not only does the lazy servant have his stewardship taken away (Luke 19:25-26), but all who are not about the Lord’s business will be slaughtered before Him (Luke 19:27).

The kingdom will not appear immediately, but we are to be busy serving the King until it does. Those Who do so because they are His will be amazed at the pleasure of His response. Those Who don’t serve Him will be amazed at the intensity of His wrath. Let us be busy for Him, and let us be amazed at Him.

How are you busy serving the Lord? What response does His pleasure in service draw out of you? What response does His fury at laziness/rebellion draw out of you?

Suggested Songs: ARP95B “Today, If You Will Hear His Voice” or TPH389 “Great God, What Do I See and Hear”

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

2021.06.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 14:23–33

Read 2 Samuel 14:23–33

Questions from the Scripture text: Where did Joab go (2 Samuel 14:23)? To do what? To where did he bring him? What did the king say he could do (2 Samuel 14:24)? What did he say Absalom couldn’t do? What does 2 Samuel 14:25 emphasize about Absalom? What did he do once a year (2 Samuel 14:26)? What children did he have, and which one’s name does 2 Samuel 14:27 give us? How long did Absalom dwell in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 14:28)? How long has it now been since he has seen the king’s face (verse 28, cf. 2 Samuel 13:38)? Whom did Absalom try to get to present him at court (2 Samuel 14:29)? How many times? How does he incentivize Joab to pay attention (2 Samuel 14:30)? What effect does this new strategy have (2 Samuel 14:31)? What complaint does Absalom make in 2 Samuel 14:32? What challenge does he make to Joab, and by transitive implication to the king? What does Joab do (2 Samuel 14:33)? What does the king do? What does Absalom do, when he arrives? How does the king respond?

Absalom’s already in control. The punishment that God promised in 2 Samuel 12:10–12 is near its climax. 

Oh, he’s complaining in 2 Samuel 14:32 (cf. 2 Samuel 14:24) that he’s as much an exile in Jerusalem has he had been in Geshur. But he’s got the kingly looks that the people can’t stop talking about (2 Samuel 14:25), the annual hair-cutting ceremony (complete with weigh-in, 2 Samuel 14:26), and the royal family (including the gorgeous daughter named after her gorgeous aunt, 2 Samuel 14:27, cf. 2 Samuel 13:1).

Joab may be running David (cf. 2 Samuel 14:1-22), but Absalom knows how to run even Joab (it just takes a little fire in his standing barley to properly incentivize him, 2 Samuel 14:29-31). And he knows that the king hasn’t shown the stomach to execute him, so he doubles down on this by way of ultimatum (end of 2 Samuel 14:32) and just the right amount of bowing (2 Samuel 14:33b) to reclaim his standing in the kingdom (verse 33c).

It’ll get worse in chapter 15, but he’s already in control, and he’s got all the kingly qualities except the ones that matter the most. He’s got both the charisma and the ruthlessness to win anything from reality shows to presidential elections, but he entirely lacks the character to be chosen to be an elder among God’s people (cf. 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1)—let alone to be anointed their king.

Thankfully, the beauty and power of King Jesus in His resurrected and enthroned glory is matched by an absolute perfect wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. We now have the King that David had aspired to be but couldn’t, and Absalom’s superior in form and opposite in substance. And He has purchased kingdom citizenship for so many of us Davids and Absaloms at the cost of His own blood. Hallelujah!

Which do you work on more: appearances or character? Getting your way or character? And for that matter, how can character—real, soul character—be worked on in the first place?

Suggested songs: ARP72A “God, Give Your Judgments to the King” or TPH281 “Rejoice, the Lord is King”

 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

2021.06.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 17:24–31

Read Acts 17:24–31

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle introduce God as having done (Acts 17:24)? What two things has He made? Of what does this make Him Lord? In what does He not dwell? By what is He not worshiped (Acts 17:25)? What doesn’t He need? To whom does He give what? What has He made from what in Acts 17:26? What two things has He determined for them? What (Whom) should they seek (Acts 17:27)? In what hope? What makes it surprising that they do not seek or find Him? In what way is He not far from us (Acts 17:28)? Of what Greek poetry phrase does the inspired apostle approve? Who get their nature from Whom (Acts 17:29)? What does this mean God’s nature cannot be like? What cannot devise it? Why had God not dealt judicially against national idolatries (Acts 17:30)? Would this forbearance continue? Why not (Acts 17:31)? What token has God given that nations are now corporately judged specifically for idolatry?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Acts 17:24–31, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Cast Down, O God, the Idols

There’s nothing we can offer God that He needs. He “made the world and everything in it” (Acts 17:24a). He is “Lord of heaven and earth” (verse 24b). Our handmade temples cannot benefit Him (verse 24c). Our hands themselves cannot benefit Him (Acts 17:25a). He is nothing like even the most valuable or strongest things in creation (Acts 17:29b, “gold or silver or stone”). He is nothing like anything at all that  our minds can come up with (verse 29c).

Rather, we have come from His mind (Acts 17:26a) to refract His image as His offspring (Acts 17:28b–Acts 17:29a), for we are the only things that He made as a display of Himself (verse 29). 

So, are you thinking of Him as He describes Himself in Scripture? And worshiping Him alone? And only doing so in the way that He has appointed in Scripture—through Christ alone, which must only be through the worship that the resurrected Christ leads from heaven? And do you think of yourself and your purpose as Scripture says: existing to glorify God as one made in His image, and to enjoy Him in that worship through Christ?

There was a time when most nations lacked the Scriptures and lived in ignorance of these things (Acts 17:30a). This was in the wisdom and providence of God (Acts 17:26b). But now He is sending His gospel into all the world, with the command to repent and to become His renewed image-bearers and worshipers in Christ (Acts 17:30b). 

Nations whose idolatry was not punished in the way that Israel’s idolatry was must no longer think God will overlook it now that Christ has come (v30). He made all these nations from one blood (Acts 17:26a) for the same glorious purpose (Acts 17:27). 

By raising Christ from the dead (Acts 17:31b), God declared Him to be that Son of God with power (cf. Romans 1:4), to Whom belong all the kingdoms of this world and their glory (cf. Psalm 2). Now, God judges all nations in history for their idolatrous theology and idolatrous worship (Acts 17:30b) as a means by which He announces to each of us that we will stand for judgment before this resurrected King (Acts 17:31a).

What a dreadful thought this is for our own nation! And unimaginably and everlastingly dreadful for every person who hasn’t repented from defining God, worship, and self to lay hold of Jesus Christ and His Word for the definitions of these things. Repent, and believe upon Jesus Christ!

Why are you? How has that been showing up (or not) in what you do and how you do it? To you, what defines good worship? How has your nation, and/or its churches, been answering this question? On this basis, what do you expect would happen to your nation and/or its churches?

Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage” or TPH467 “Cast Down, O God, the Idols”

 

Monday, June 7, 2021

2021.06.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 2:1–11

Read Joel 2:1–11

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Joel 2:1 tell them to blow and sound, where? Who else should do what? Why? What five characteristics describe this day (Joel 2:2)? What kind of people come on this day? What goes before them (Joel 2:3)? What change does it make as they go? What escapes? What do they look like (Joel 2:4a, Joel 2:5d)? How fast are they (Joel 2:4b)? What do they sound like (Joel 2:5a, c)? How high do they jump (verse 5b)? What is happening to the people in front of them (Joel 2:6)? What is the movement of this army like (Joel 2:7-9)? With what effect on creation (Joel 2:10)? Whose army is it (Joel 2:11)? What is He doing in front of them? What is strength doing? What does verse 11d call the day? And what question does verse 11e ask? With what expected response?

The Lord sounds the alarm (Joel 2:1), but it turns out that the invading army is led by the Lord Himself (Joel 2:11). This is surprising, but it is intended to prevent a worse surprise: those who are expecting the day of Yahweh to be a day of joy, but are headed for it as a day of devastation.

Elsewhere in the prophets, there are preachers who say “peace, peace” where there is no peace (cf. Jeremiah 6:14, Jeremiah 8:11; Ezekiel 13:10). And there are those who assume that they may continue tolerating all sorts of sin or false worship, because after all they live in Jerusalem and attend worship at the temple (cf. Jeremiah 7:8; Micah 3:11). 

When we are church members who feel little of God’s holiness or our sin’s wickedness, we are in a similar danger, and there are plenty of preachers who will gladly keep us comfortable. Not so our Lord. He gives His people a little foretaste of His day in this locust plague.

Look at how these little insects and their day are described! The sights (darkness, gloominess, clouds, thick darkness; from Eden-like to scorched earth; fearless invaders and petrified victims)! The sounds (noise like chariots, noise like raging fire)! The sensation (earthquakes and heaven-quakes)! And the insects themselves are presented as a most strong, speedy, skilled, disciplined, selfless, organized, persistent army.

Why would the Lord invade His own city with such an army in history? Because He is coming with a frightfully more fearsome army at the end of history. Each of these locusts in the ten thousands of ten thousands will be replaced by a mighty angel. If Joel 2 is what it is like when the army is hundreds of millions of locusts, what will it be like, when the army is hundreds of millions of mighty angels?! And yet, there is One at the head of that army (cf. Revelation 19:19) Who is by Himself more mighty and more deadly than all of the rest of the army together (cf. Revelation 19:11–14, Revelation 19:21).

So in Joel, and for us as we read and hear it by the Spirit’s help, the Lord raises the alarm ahead of time, calling us to repentance. He disabuses us of any false sense of security in our church membership or in anything else, and sends us flying to Christ alone. In chapter 1, He wakes us up; and here, in chapter 2, He shakes us up.

Who can endure the great and very terrible day of Yahweh? No one. And so when He comes, you had better be part of the armies of heaven and led by the One on the white horse; for, you cannot endure being His enemy.

When do you tend to lose the sense of your neediness of Christ and desperation for Him? How can you make good use of passages like this one, and what they talk about, to stir it back up?

Suggested songs: ARP99A “Let the Nations Tremble” or TPH389 “Great God, What Do I See and Hear!”



Sunday, June 6, 2021

The Excellence of the Knowledge of Christ for Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification (2021.06.06 Evening Sermon in Philippians 3:8–11)

Nothing else, and not even everything else all taken together can avail the smallest bit for being right with God, being made holy, or coming into perfect and endless blessedness in the resurrection. For each and all of these, however, the knowledge of Christ is excels. How excellent is the knowledge of Christ!

Christ-Authored Faith Guaranteed to Be a Christ-Perfected Faith (2021.06.06 Sabbath School on WCF 14.3.4 from Hebrews 11:39–12:14)

Those who have any real faith have a faith authored by Christ, and they are sure to have a faith that is also perfected by Christ!

Alarmed in Love to Not Be Destroyed by Wrath (2021.06.06 Morning Sermon in Joel 2:1–11)


Who can endure the great and very terrible day of Yahweh? No one. And so when He comes, you had better be part of the armies of heaven and led by the One on the white horse; for, you cannot endure being His enemy.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

2021.06.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 2:1–11

Read Joel 2:1–11

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Joel 2:1 tell them to blow and sound, where? Who else should do what? Why? What five characteristics describe this day (Joel 2:2)? What kind of people come on this day? What goes before them (Joel 2:3)? What change does it make as they go? What escapes? What do they look like (Joel 2:4a, Joel 2:5d)? How fast are they (verse 4b)? What do they sound like (verse 5a, c)? How high do they jump (verse 5b)? What is happening to the people in front of them (Joel 2:6)? What is the movement of this army like (Joel 2:7-9)? With what effect on creation (Joel 2:10)? Whose army is it (Joel 2:11)? What is He doing in front of them? What is strength doing? What does verse 11d call the day? And what question does verse 11e ask? With what expected response?

The Lord sounds the alarm (Joel 2:1), but it turns out that the invading army is led by the Lord Himself (Joel 2:11). This is surprising, but it is intended to prevent a worse surprise: those who are expecting the day of Yahweh to be a day of joy, but are headed for it as a day of devastation.

Elsewhere in the prophets, there are preachers who say “peace, peace” where there is no peace (cf. Jeremiah 6:14, Jeremiah 8:11; Ezekiel 13:10). And there are those who assume that they may continue tolerating all sorts of sin or false worship, because after all they live in Jerusalem and attend worship at the temple (cf. Jeremiah 7:8; Micah 3:11). 

When we are church members who feel little of God’s holiness or our sin’s wickedness, we are in a similar danger, and there are plenty of preachers who will gladly keep us comfortable. Not so our Lord. He gives His people a little foretaste of His day in this locust plague.

Look at how these little insects and their day are described! The sights (darkness, gloominess, clouds, thick darkness; from Eden-like to scorched earth; fearless invaders and petrified victims)! The sounds (noise like chariots, noise like raging fire)! The sensation (earthquakes and heaven-quakes)! And the insects themselves are presented as a most strong, speedy, skilled, disciplined, selfless, organized, persistent army.

Why would the Lord invade His own city with such an army in history? Because He is coming with a frightfully more fearsome army at the end of history. Each of these locusts in the ten thousands of ten thousands will be replaced by a mighty angel. If Joel 2 is what it is like when the army is hundreds of millions of locusts, what will it be like, when the army is hundreds of millions of mighty angels?! And yet, there is One at the head of that army (cf. Revelation 19:19) Who is by Himself more mighty and more deadly than all of the rest of the army together (cf. Revelation 19:11–14Revelation 19:21).

So in Joel, and for us as we read and hear it by the Spirit’s help, the Lord raises the alarm ahead of time, calling us to repentance. He disabuses us of any false sense of security in our church membership or in anything else, and sends us flying to Christ alone. In chapter 1, He wakes us up; and here, in chapter 2, He shakes us up.

Who can endure the great and very terrible day of Yahweh? No one. And so when He comes, you had better be part of the armies of heaven and led by the One on the white horse; for, you cannot endure being His enemy.

When do you tend to lose the sense of your neediness of Christ and desperation for Him? How can you make good use of passages like this one, and what they talk about, to stir it back up?

Suggested songs: ARP99A “Let the Nations Tremble” or TPH389 “Great God, What Do I See and Hear!”


Friday, June 4, 2021

Christ Infinitely Valuable (and All Else as Dung) for Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification (2021.06.04 Family Worship Lesson in Philippians 3:8–11)

In what way is everything other than Christ dung? Pastor leads his family in today's "Hopewell @Home" passage. Philippians 3:8–11 prepares us for the evening sermon on the coming Lord's Day. In these four verses of holy Scripture, we learn that neither the accomplishments of the flesh, nor anything else, is worth any more than dung for justification, sanctification or glorification. The knowledge of Christ, however, is most excellent for every part of our salvation!

2021.06.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 3:8–11

Read Philippians 3:8–11

Questions from the Scripture text: As what does the apostle count all things (Philippians 3:8)? In exchange for what more excellent thing? What has he actually done for Jesus? And how does he count those things he lost? In order to gain what? In what is he found, when he gains Christ (Philippians 3:9)? What does he not have of his own? From what couldn’t he get it? Through what could he get righteousness? From Whom is this righteousness? By what? What three things does he know, having gained Christ (Philippians 3:10)? To what is the apostle conformed by the fellowship that he has in Christ’s sufferings? What is this the means of attaining (Philippians 3:11)?

The apostle has counted as dung all that he previously thought was to his credit (Philippians 3:8). And he’s right. They are as valuable as dung for obtaining the wonderful things in Philippians 3:9-11. Justification (Philippians 3:9), sanctification (Philippians 3:10), and glorification (Philippians 3:11) can only come one way: the excellent knowledge of Christ Jesus—gaining Christ.

Justification, Philippians 3:9. If you have gained Christ, you are found to be righteous in Him (verse 9). The law can’t give you righteousness, because you don’t have any righteousness from yourself for it to bring out. We can only have righteousness that is from God, by faith. And Jesus Himself is that righteousness from God. We must be found in Him.

Sanctification, Philippians 3:10. Being found in Jesus begins a life-long journey of discovery as we know Him, more and more. Believers begin with knowing the power of His resurrection, in that He has made them new. And the more they grow, the more their sufferings take on a marvelous, new aspect: fellowship with Jesus’s sufferings and being pressed into the shape of His death. 

The apostle already preached this mindset in the first half of chapter two. In obedience to the Father and out of love for the church, Jesus was willing to be lowly and to suffer. And the more we grow in knowing Him, the more willing we are to be lowly and to suffer for the glory of God and the good of His people. Our suffering does not atone, but in it we have this likeness to Jesus and His mindset.

Glorification, Philippians 3:11. This knowledge of Jesus that led to our being right with God, and this knowledge of Christ that increases our like-mindedness to Himself, is the same knowledge of Jesus that is the only way of our coming into our own resurrection. On that day, our bodies will be like Jesus’s, just as our mindset will have become like Jesus’s.

Now, what could Paul’s previous spiritual “attainments” have done to produce any of that for him? Indeed, they were useful as dung for justification, sanctification, or glorification. So also is any imagined spiritual strength or goodness from yourself, dear believer. The only thing that can avail for these is the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus your Lord.

When do you feel most spiritually needy? Who can meet that need? When do you feel least spiritually needy? How will you go about reminding yourself that that’s when you’re neediest? 

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH508 “Jesus, Priceless Treasure”


Thursday, June 3, 2021

What Happens When Jesus Brings Salvation to a House (Family Worship lesson in Luke 19:1–10)

What happens when Jesus seeks and saves the lost? Pastor leads his family in today's "Hopewell @Home" passage. Luke 19:1–10 prepares us for the first second reading in the morning worship service on the coming Lord's Day. In these ten verses of holy Scripture, we learn that Jesus does the impossible (saving a rich man) by giving him curiosity, knowing him, seeking him out, making him to receive Jesus gladly, giving him willingness to give anything up for Jesus, making him wish to reflect well upon his new Master, and promising to do the same in and for the rest of his household.

2021.06.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 19:1–10

Read Luke 19:1–10

Questions from the Scripture text: Through where was Jesus passing (Luke 19:1)? Who was there (Luke 19:2)? What five things do we learn about him in Luke 19:2-3? What does he do in Luke 19:4? What does Jesus do and say in Luke 19:5? How does Zacchaeus respond in Luke 19:6? How did the crowd respond, and why (Luke 19:7)? But to whom does Zacchaeus address himself in Luke 19:8? What does he pledge? What does Jesus say has come in Luke 19:9? To whom? Why? What has the Son of man done (Luke 19:10)? To do what?

“The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). That’s Jesus’s summary of how this all happened. 

Perhaps Zacchaeus thought he was the seeker. He certainly went through some effort to overcome his height disadvantage. But Jesus gives us a clue in Luke 19:9 about where good works like those in Luke 19:8 (or effort like that in Luke 19:3-4) come from: Jesus Himself. 

“Today salvation has come to this house” in Luke 19:9 reprises Luke 19:6’s “today I must stay at your house.” Jesus Himself is salvation, and He Who came to the house produced these good things in the master of the house. It was Jesus Who stopped in Luke 19:15, Who called Zacchaeus by name, Who insisted on coming to his house.

How necessary this was! For, Luke 19:2 had delivered the terrible news, “and he was rich.” Coming on the heels of Luke 18:24–26, that’s a heavy blow. But the crowd’s complaint in Luke 19:7 actually identifies why Zacchaeus was joyful (Luke 19:6) as opposed to the sorrowful rich man from chapter 18. He needed Jesus. He was a sinner. What use were all the earthly goods in the world to someone who knew that Jesus Himself was the “one thing he lacked”?

The proverbial Pharisee of Luke 18:11 comes back to mind on the lips of an entire crowd in Luke 19:7, who could easily have thanked God that they weren’t like that sinner come down from the tree. But it’s for sinners that Jesus came. “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

How are you the kind of person that Jesus came to seek and save? How has He sought you? How have you received Him? What have you gladly given up for Him?

Suggested Songs: ARP16A “Keep Me, O God” or TPH508 “Jesus, Priceless Treasure”


Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Looking to God to Work Gloriously in Us by His Word (2021.06.02 Prayer Meeting lesson in Psalm 19)

The heavens declare God’s glory, v1–6. The Scriptures declare and accomplish God’s will, v7–11. The believer depends upon the glorious God for the doing of His will, v12–14.

God's Judgment through Wicked Conspirators and Weak Magistrates (Family Worship lesson in 2Samuel 14:1–22)

What are we to make of Joab and the cunning actress from Tekoa? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. 2Samuel 14:1–22 prepares us for the first serial reading in the morning worship service on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twenty-two verses of sacred Scripture, we learn that it was a grievous judgment on David to be surrounded by manipulators and to be given over to his own weakness to be manipulated by them. May the Lord spare us from the chastening of being under such authorities and especially of being such authorities ourselves!

2021.06.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 14:1–22

Read 2 Samuel 14:1–22

Questions from the Scripture text: Who perceived what in 2 Samuel 14:1? For whom does he send (2 Samuel 14:2)? How does he tell her to act? What does he want her to do while acting like that (2 Samuel 14:3)? To whom does she speak in 2 Samuel 14:4? For what does she ask? What does the king ask (2 Samuel 14:5)? How does she introduce herself? What does she say happened (2 Samuel 14:6)? And what does she say the whole family wants done about it (2 Samuel 14:7)? Why would this be a problem? What does the king say in 2 Samuel 14:8? How does she word a refusal of help in 2 Samuel 14:9? What does the king restate in 2 Samuel 14:10? What detailed request does she now make in 2 Samuel 14:11? And how does the king respond? Now what does she ask in 2 Samuel 14:12? Of what does she accuse the king now in 2 Samuel 14:13? Whom does she claim, in 2 Samuel 14:14, would let Absalom off easier? What does she claim in 2 Samuel 14:15-16 as the reason for trying to entrap him in an apparent inconsistency? What flattery does she offer if he will heed her (2 Samuel 14:17)? How can we tell that the king is suspicious in 2 Samuel 14:18? Of what (2 Samuel 14:19)? What was Joab trying to accomplish (2 Samuel 14:20)? How does the king respond to this (2 Samuel 14:21)? And how does Joab respond to that (2 Samuel 14:22)?

Joab gets some inside intel in 2 Samuel 14:1. It’s difficult to see in our English version because of the word ‘concerned’, but the preposition usually means “upon” and can even mean “against.” Joab’s actions imply either that he is trying to give David cover for doing what he thinks David really wants to do, or that he’s trying to get around the shift he’s seen in David’s attitude (not unlike the reversal of Amnon in 2 Samuel 13:15).

The second possibility fits well the words that Joab puts into the cunning actress’s mouth. It may well be that he has observed David’s heart turning against Absalom (cf. 2 Samuel 14:242 Samuel 14:282 Samuel 14:32), and that he thinks this is a terrible waste of good political talent that harms the people of God (cf. 2 Samuel 14:13). Joab “son of Zeruiah” (2 Samuel 14:1) turns out to be a match for his cousin Jonadab “son of Shimeah” (cf. 2 Samuel 13:32 Samuel 13:32). 

Cunning politicians is certainly a form of judgment. So are gullible heads of state. Joab’s staged situation of the woman’s manslaughtering son of 2 Samuel 14:6 isn’t nearly like that of murdering Absalom. Besides that significant difference, there’s the obvious fact that her son is the only one left (end of 2 Samuel 14:7), but David indeed has plenty of possible heirs (as Absalom’s impending death will prove anyway). 

Like Isaac wondering why Esau has Jacob’s voice (Genesis 27:22), David even sniffs through the flattery (2 Samuel 14:172 Samuel 14:19b) to detect the stink of Joab (2 Samuel 14:18-19a). But, even with his eyes wide open, David currently has the spine of a dead fish, and just lets Joab have what he wants (2 Samuel 14:21). Joab lays it on pretty thick in 2 Samuel 14:22, but even as the saccharine syrup of his flattery echoes the cunning woman that he was running earlier, he seems to be saying, “great job being in charge, your highness.”

It is a great sin to use authority to manipulate for wickedness as David had done in chapter 11, and it is a great judgment (and sin) to allow your authority to be manipulated, rather than exercising it firmly and courageously for righteousness. How many families, churches, and nations have suffered under one or the other of these! 

Praise be to God that His Son, our great King, is neither conniving nor cowardly!

To which error do you tend: conniving or cowardice? How are you (and/or others) suffering for it?

Suggested songs: ARP72A “God, Give Your Judgments to the King” or TPH281 “Rejoice, the Lord is King”


Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Afflictions and Weakness that Glorify Jesus's Work and Keep Us Looking to Him in Faith (Family Worship Lesson in 2Corinthians 4:8–18)

Why is the Christian life so hard? Pastor leads his family in today's "Hopewell @Home" passage. 2Corinthians 4:8–18 prepares us for the first part of the morning worship service on the coming Lord's Day. In these eleven verses of Sacred Scripture, we learn that our troubles and ongoing weakness make it plain that all of the good that comes out from us in the midst of it is only from Jesus. By using this means to fit us for eternally weighty glory, and bring us into eternally weighty glory, Jesus is much glorified in our lives. How blessed, then, is the usefulness of our many troubles and increasing neediness!