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)

Saturday, March 6, 2021

On Not Being a Hand/Foot/Eye that Needs Cutting Off (2021.03.06 Pastoral Letter and Hopewell Herald)

Hopewell Herald – March 6, 2021

Dear Congregation,

As I was reading Mark 9:33–50 this morning, vv42–47 struck me forcefully again. They’re meant to do so. Expositions of passages like these often immediately run to how this was just figurative, as if there is a real danger of people deciding to gouge and maim themselves.

But that’s a mistake. Though the passage is not endorsing physical gouging and maiming, the use of the illustration is meant to be shocking. So we need to be shocked.

Furthermore, it needs to be within the context of the passage that we apply the shock.

The disciples had been arguing about who would be the greatest (v34), but Jesus had responded by saying that we are to regard the children who are His with the intensity of regard that we have for Him (v36–37).

John tries to apply this to someone who hasn’t supported the apostles (v38). After all, if what is done to one of Christ’s little children is so significant, then what about what is done to the apostles? Jesus does affirm that what is done to them matters (v41, though not to respond vindictively, v39–40), but He immediately brings their attention back to the little one who is still in his arms (v42, cf. v36).

That’s the context for vv42–48, where He repeatedly emphasizes the permanence and intensity of Hell. A culture of pride puts our children in danger of hell.

We are the hand and the foot and the eye of v43, 45, 47. God forbid that we should become the occasion of our children being cast into hell!

Let us sacrifice our pride. Is it really more important to us how highly others regard us?

Are we really willing that they would learn from us to try to appear rich in spirit, rather than come to God as poor in spirit and with hunger and thirst and meekness before Him?

Are we really willing to put our own comfort or amusement ahead of that daily worship and all-day discipleship to which He has called us for the sakes of their souls (cf. Deut 6, Eph 6)?

Are we really willing to nurse personal offenses that keep our children from the  corporate worship of God and the fellowship of the saints that are designed by Christ as instruments through which He brings them to faith and grows us in faith (cf. Eph 4, Heb 10)?

Consider Jesus holding that little child. Never had anyone held a child so lovingly as our Savior. Consider His repeating over and over, with that child in His arms, the greatness of the spiritual danger if we will not sacrifice ourselves for them.

On the other hand, consider your children. And the rest of the precious children of our congregation. Isn’t it marvelous that our Lord has given us such a role in His bringing them to faith and building them up in it? How much this work matters to Him! What a great privilege is ours!

Looking forward to exercising that privilege with you,

Pastor

2021.03.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 47:13–27

Read Genesis 47:13–27

Questions from the Scripture text: What wasn’t there, and where (Genesis 47:13)? Why? With what result? What did Joseph gather up (Genesis 47:14)? For what? Where did he bring it? What happened where (Genesis 47:15)? Who asked for what? What did Joseph ask in return (Genesis 47:16)? With what result (Genesis 47:17)? At the end of that year, what did they say was the only thing left (Genesis 47:18)? What did they propose (Genesis 47:19)? For what two purposes? What did Joseph buy (Genesis 47:20)? What happened to the land? Where did he move the people (Genesis 47:21)? Whose land did he not buy (Genesis 47:22)? Why didn’t they sell? What did Joseph give the people (Genesis 47:23)? To do what with it? How much did they have to give Pharaoh (Genesis 47:24)? How did the people describe this arrangement (Genesis 47:25)? What did they ask to be? What became a permanent law (Genesis 47:26)? Who was doing what, and where, all this time (Genesis 47:27)?

Many who are first will be last, and many who will be last will be first. This passage would have been rather stunning to the Israelites under Moses. Nearly all of wealthy and powerful Egypt is being impoverished and enslaved (Genesis 47:14–26), while the comparatively poor and powerless Israelites are prospering and multiplying (Genesis 47:27).

The life they had been born into was very different. By the time their generation came, it was the Hebrews who had been impoverished and enslaved. But then again in the Exodus, as the Hebrews were being freed, they would again be suddenly enriched (cf. Exodus 3:22, Exodus 11:2–3, Exodus 12:35–36).

Here is something that the Lord has often done in history: brought great reversals to wean us off of prosperity and power in this world and warm our hearts to value the prosperity and power of the world to come. Indeed, in His great sermon on kingdom living (Matthew 5–7), the Lord Jesus teaches us to embrace our lowliness now as bringing great blessedness in the great reversal to come:

3    “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
        For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4    Blessed are those who mourn,
      For they shall be comforted.

5    Blessed are the meek,
      For they shall inherit the earth.

6    Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
      For they shall be filled.

7    Blessed are the merciful,
      For they shall obtain mercy.

8    Blessed are the pure in heart,
      For they shall see God.

9    Blessed are the peacemakers,
      For they shall be called sons of God.

10  Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
      For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

(Matthew 5:3–12)

In what ways has the Lord surprisingly blessed you? In what ways has He surprisingly humbled you? 

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH464 “The Beatitudes”


Friday, March 5, 2021

The Sort of Life Whose Dying Is Gain (Family Worship in Philippians 1:19–21)

Can you know for sure that you will be delivered from a trial? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these three verses, we learn that you can know it—if both your living and your dying are forms of deliverance. When our greatest hope and desire is to magnify Christ, then we can live boldly as those who know that in addition to all the deliverances of this life, death itself will be infinite gain for us.

2021.03.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 1:19–21

Read Philippians 1:19–21

Questions from the Scripture text: What is the apostle’s level of confidence about this (Philippians 1:19)? For what does he know that this will turn out? Through what two things? According to what sure hope/expectation of his (Philippians 1:20)? With how much boldness does he aim at magnifying Christ? In what of his? By what two things? To him, what is it, to live (Philippians 1:21)? What is it to die?

Would you like to know that every situation will turn out for your deliverance? Would you like to know that you will never be put to shame? Would you like to know that you will always achieve your goal? Would you like to know that for you, dying will be gain? The apostle knows all of these things, and he shares his secret with us: for him, to live is Christ.

If Christ is everything to your life, every situation ultimately turns out for your deliverance. In this particular case, Paul faced two possible deliverances. The one deliverance, the apostle hoped would come through their prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. What a wonderful thing praying for one another must be, that the Bible yokes it here in conjunction with the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ! We cannot always know for our situation what the apostle knew about his; the Scripture calls us to love not our lives even unto death.

But there is a second deliverance that Paul has in mind here, as demonstrated by his saying “this will turn out for my deliverance” with words that came from Job 13:16 in his Greek Old Testament. It is the deliverance that will come at the judgment when he faces God. The deliverance that Christ had won for him already. With Christ as his everything, he could be sure that he would ultimately be delivered. You can have this confidence for yourself too. Everyone who calls upon the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved (cf. Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13). 

If Christ is everything to your life, you can have with the apostle an “earnest expectation and hope that in nothing [you] shall be ashamed” (Philippians 1:20). How did he know this? Because the Scripture tells us that none who trust in Him will be put to shame. That trust will never fail. For I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day (cf. 2 Timothy 1:12). And not only will you not be ashamed at the judgment, but you need not be ashamed even in this life…

If Christ is everything to your life, you can know that you will always achieve your goal. That’s because, if “to live is Christ” for you, then your aim is that Christ will be magnified in your body. Well, if we live for Him, then He is magnified regardless of the circumstances in which we do so; in fact, when we live for Him in harder circumstances, that serves to magnify Him all the more! And if we die faithfully, He is magnified both in the manner in which we die, and the fact that our soul both immediately goes to Him and also will be reunited with a resurrected body in the last day. O Christian, make it your goal that Christ be magnified, and you shall always achieve it!

If Christ is everything to your life, you can know that dying is gain. It is an odd thing that so many who resent or resist the idea of living a Christ-consumed life would comfort themselves with fairytales of going to heaven, when it is a Christ-consumed place. Such a person would not find heaven pleasant, and ought not be confident that he is going there. Indeed, if you refuse to say that “to live is Christ,” then your death will be an unimaginable catastrophe, and you cannot say in truth that “to die is gain.” 

But O, if Christ is everything to your life, such that your distance from Him and remaining sin against Him are your greatest pains, how great will be your gain at death when you are ushered into His presence in the very moment at which your appetite for Him is purified and perfected!

In what daily activities are you least mindful of Christ being everything to you? How can that change?

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


Thursday, March 4, 2021

The God Whose Praise Provokes Our Prayers (Prayer Meeting Lesson in Psalm 9)

In Psalm 9, our confidence to pray and our goal in praying come from the praise of God's salvation, justice, eternality, and faithful mercy.

2021.03.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 14:1–24

Read Luke 14:1–24

Questions from the Scripture text: Where did Jesus go in Luke 14:1? To do what? When? What did the Pharisees do? Who else was there (Luke 14:2)? To whom does Jesus speak in Luke 14:3? What does Jesus ask them? What do they do (Luke 14:4a)? What does Jesus do (verse 4b)? Now what does He ask them (Luke 14:5)? What were they unable to do (Luke 14:6)? What did He tell them now (Luke 14:7)? What prompted it? What situation was the parable about (Luke 14:8)? What did He tell them not to do? Why not (Luke 14:8-9)? What did He tell them to do instead (Luke 14:10a)? Why (verse 10b)? What principle did this teach (Luke 14:11)? To whom does He now speak (Luke 14:12)? What does He tell him not to do? Why not? What does He tell him to do instead (Luke 14:13)? Why (Luke 14:14a)? When will such deeds be repaid (verse 14b)? How does one of the table guests respond to this idea (Luke 14:15)? What is the parable about, with which Jesus responds (Luke 14:16)? Whom does the host send to whom to say what (Luke 14:17)? What did they begin to make (Luke 14:18)? What were their excuses (Luke 14:18-20)? How did the master respond (Luke 14:21)? Whom did he say to go bring instead? What was the servant’s report (Luke 14:22)? What did the master say to do to whom where (Luke 14:23)? Why? What about those who were originally invited (Luke 14:24)?

When we’re consumed with earthly things, we won’t know how to keep the earthly Sabbath. The ruler of the Pharisees (Luke 14:1) had no problem having Jesus over for dinner on the Sabbath, and truly Jesus’s efforts to evangelize the Pharisees were not less than the effort expended to heal the man with dropsy.

But they could not see what they had in front of them: the Lord of the Sabbath Himself. The One for Whom they were made. The only One by Whom they could be redeemed. The One Whose glory defines the purpose of our redemption and Whose fellowship defines the pleasure of our redemption.

But the spiritually dull religionists around the table couldn’t see Him. They could only see their self-over-estimated expertise in the law and self-over-estimated goodness at keeping what they thought it said. But those who do not love the Lord with all their heart cannot know truly what it is to love their neighbor as themselves. How easily Jesus bursts the balloon of their self-impressed-ness so easily. They cannot answer the simple question, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”

Once they are not able to answer Him, He tells them two parables. The first (Luke 14:7-14) teaches that their self-impressed-ness sets them up for humiliation. They are exalting themselves (Luke 14:11a) by inviting whoever seems important (Luke 14:12), which leads to humiliation. They invited Jesus because they thought it exalted them. But they should have been focused on doing good to people like the man with dropsy, because their repayment is already guaranteed in the resurrection.   

The second parable (Luke 14:15-24) teaches that they need to be more concerned with whether they are going to be at the Lord’s dinner on His climactic Day than they are with what He does at their dinner on His weekly day. Earthly-mindedness (Luke 14:18-20) gets in the way of valuing fellowship with Christ above all pleasures and will keep people out of the kingdom altogether.

When we live to glorify Christ instead of self, we know the purpose of the Sabbath, of this life, and of our eternal blessedness. And when we live to enjoy Christ in all earthly things and above all earthly things, we know the pleasure of the Sabbath, and of this life, and of our eternal blessedness.

What do your Lord’s Day habits say about how much Jesus’s glory really is your purpose and Jesus’s fellowship really is your pleasure? How might you improve keeping the day? 

Suggested Songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH152 “Lord of the Sabbath, Hear Us Pray”


Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Our Speaking, Saving, Sovereign God and King (Family Worship in 2Samuel 5:17–25)

What does God show about Himself, as He saves through His promised King? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these nine verses, we learn that God displays Himself as the speaking and guiding God, the mightily delivering God, and the manifoldly wise God.

2021.03.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 5:17–25

Read 2 Samuel 5:17–25

Questions from the Scripture text: Who heard what in 2 Samuel 5:17 (cf. 2 Samuel 5:3)? What did they do? And who heard of that? And what did he do? Where else did the Philistines go (2 Samuel 5:18)? Of Whom does David inquire (2 Samuel 5:19)? What two specific questions does he ask? What combined answer does Yahweh give? What does 2 Samuel 5:20 now call the Valley of Rephaim? How did it get that name? What did the Philistines abandon as they were fleeing (2 Samuel 5:21)? Who did what with them? What did the Philistines do (again!?!) in 2 Samuel 5:22? What did David do again (2 Samuel 5:23)? What was Yahweh’s answer this time (2 Samuel 5:23-24)? What was the result (2 Samuel 5:25)?

Saul tried to do things his own way (1 Samuel 13, 15), and Israel suffered. So God provided for Himself a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14, 1 Samuel 15:28), by whom He promised to save His people (cf. 2 Samuel 3:18). Now, in 2 Samuel 5:17–25, we get our first taste of that salvation by the hand of the newly anointed (cf. 2 Samuel 5:3) king. 

The Philistines have heard about the anointing (2 Samuel 5:17a) and think they’d better make a preemptive strike against this newly united Israel. They go hunting for David (verse 17b), David takes up a fortified position, the Philistines hole up in Rephaim (2 Samuel 5:18), and the ensuing conflict teaches us several remarkable things about our God.

Our God is the speaking, guiding God. First, David is the anti-Saul. We have seen him inquire of Yahweh several times (e.g. cf. 1 Samuel 23:2, 2 Samuel 2:1), and as king he continues to do the same. One of the ways that God works in our lives is by giving us the guidance of His Word and giving us the desire to seek that guidance. He reminds us here that He is the speaking, guiding God.

Our God is the powerful, delivering God. It was Yahweh who broke through the Philistines like a breakthrough of water (2 Samuel 5:20). It was Yahweh who went before David to strike the camp of the Philistines (2 Samuel 5:24). David “defeated” them in verse 20, and “drove back the Philistines” in 2 Samuel 5:25, but these battles are reminiscent of the conquest, in which Yahweh did much of the battling Himself.

Finally, our God is the wisely and creatively planning God. Idols are the creations of man (2 Samuel 5:21), but God Himself is the great Author and Creator. So, when David faces an identical situation (2 Samuel 5:22, cf. 2 Samuel 5:18), Yahweh gives a very different answer (2 Samuel 5:23, cf. 2 Samuel 5:19). Who is dull and wicked enough to find Him boring? Even the cue of “the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees” (2 Samuel 5:24) is so interestingly creative! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And His truth is always the same. But His work can be marvelously varied.

And even having saved us by David’s greater Son, God still guides and delivers His people in His wise and interesting plan! He is worthy of your inquiry, and your trust, and your praise.

Where can you find God’s Word? How should you respond to His power? To His wisdom/creativity?

Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH195 “Shine Thou Upon Us Lord”


Tuesday, March 2, 2021

The Kingdom, Its King, and His Mission (Family Worship in John 3:1–17)

Did Jesus come from God to usher in the kingdom? Pastor leads his family in tomorrow’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these seventeen verses, we learn that the kingdom is an eternal kingdom that belongs to the next age, that the King is God the Son Who became man, and that His mission was to come to die for sinners.

2021.03.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 3:13–17

Read John 3:13–17

Questions from the Scripture text: Who has ascended to heaven (John 3:13)? Who came down from heaven? What did Moses lift up in the wilderness (John 3:14)? Who must be lifted up? What happens when someone believes (John 3:15)? Why did God give His only begotten Son (John 3:16)? What will not happen to those who believe in Him? What will they have? What was not the reason that God sent His Son into the world (John 3:17)? What was the reason?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from John 3:13–17, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with As When the Prophet Moses Raised

How can you enter the kingdom? Jesus knew that’s what Nicodemus was after (John 3:1-3), but Nicodemus didn’t understand that he was asking about a heavenly kingdom—and that entering it requires of us, while on earth, a heavenly birth (John 3:4-12). 

Who can ascend to heaven (John 3:13)? Only the One Who is from heaven! Israel in the wilderness could do nothing to escape death, but God lifted up a salvation (the serpent in the wilderness, John 3:14a) to which they could look and live. The evangelist here tells us that this pointed forward to Christ, Who would be lifted up (verse 14b) for sinners to believe in and be saved (John 3:15). 

What is this “believing”? The comparison to the bronze serpent from Numbers 21 makes it plain. This “believing” is to helplessly look to Christ, Who is given to us by God as the Savior Who has all salvation in Himself.

Why would God save helpless sinners? Is there anything in them that convinces Him to do so? No—even that is not in them. It is something in Him that sends Christ. For God so loved the world (John 3:16).

By Whom does God save? By His Son (verse 16), Who is Himself. That which is begotten of man is man. That which is begotten of God is God. “only begotten” here translates a single Greek word that makes it clear that within the Godhead, there is just the One Who is begotten. 

We mustn’t say more than the Bible at this point. God is One. He has one essence. But the one God exists in three persons. It belongs to the Father to beget. It belongs to the Son to be begotten. It belongs to the Father and the Son to send forth the Spirit. It belongs to the Spirit to proceed from the Father and the Son. 

But the bottom line for us in this passage is this: the Man to Whom we must look for all of our salvation is One Who is God from all eternity, but Whom God gave (verse 16) by sending Him into the world (John 3:17). 

We would expect God, when He comes into the world of sinners, to condemn them. Indeed, we know that when Jesus the God-Man returns, He will do just that. But this is not why He was originally sent into the world. He was first sent to save sinners, whom He brings into this salvation by sending His Spirit to give them the faith to look to Him and live!

Why do you need a Savior from heaven? Why do you need a heavenly birth in order to believe in Him?

Suggested songs: ARP25A “To You I Lift My Soul” or TPH449 “As When the Prophet Moses Raised ”


Monday, March 1, 2021

Rejoicing Always in the Always-Good Lord (2021.02.28 Evening Sermon)

How to rejoice, even when there are very real, very serious griefs

Blessed to Bless the Nations (2021.02.28 Morning Sermon in Genesis 46:31–47:12)


The world's actions are blessed to us by our God in His providence, and it is especially so that we can glorify Him by being a blessing spiritually to all the world.< br />

"Of Sanctification" part 8, WCF 13.3.3–4 — Progress and Perfection (2021.02.28 Sabbath School)

and so, the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

2021.03.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 46:31–47:12

Read Genesis 46:31–47:12

Questions from the Scripture text: Who speaks to whom (Genesis 46:31)? What does Joseph tell them he’s going to do? What will he tell Pharaoh is their occupation (Genesis 46:32)? What will Pharaoh ask them (Genesis 46:33)? What are they to say (Genesis 46:34)? Where will Pharaoh give them to dwell (verse 34)? Why? What does Joseph go and tell Pharaoh in Genesis 47:1? How many brothers did he select (Genesis 47:2)? To do what? What does Pharaoh ask (Genesis 47:3)? What did they ask (Genesis 47:4)? To whom does Pharaoh speak in Genesis 47:5? What does he say has happened? What does Pharaoh call Goshen in Genesis 47:6? Where does he say for the brothers to live? What does he say for them to do? Whom does Joseph now bring in (Genesis 47:7)? Who blesses whom? What does Pharaoh ask Jacob (Genesis 47:8)? What does Jacob do (Genesis 47:9)? How does he describe his life? As compared to whose? What does Jacob do in Genesis 47:10? Then what? Where did Joseph situate them (Genesis 47:11)? With what did he provide them (Genesis 47:12)? According to what?

The bulk of the passage is focused upon the plan to get the family assigned to Goshen (Genesis 46:31–34) and the successful execution of that plan (Genesis 47:1–6Genesis 47:11–12). We’ve been anticipating this ever since Genesis 45:10Genesis 45:18-19. Joseph knows how to leverage both their skill (Genesis 46:32) and their stink (end of Genesis 46:34), and even which brothers should make the presentation (Genesis 47:2). It goes off without a hitch (Genesis 47:6), even landing them some extra duties (and probably perks, which Joseph probably anticipated). 

But the bulk of the passage is not the heart of the passage. The heart of the passage is Pharaoh’s interview with Jacob. The greater blesses the lesser (cf. Hebrews 7:7), so if we’re thinking in fleshly terms then we might be surprised that rather than falling on his face (cf. Genesis 43:26, Genesis 44:14), Jacob’s opening move is to bless Pharaoh (Genesis 47:7). 

It may also have surprised Pharaoh, since his first words are, “how old are you?!” (Genesis 47:8). It’s tempting to hear complaint in Jacob’s response—especially since we know him so well, but the word “evil” can just mean difficult and uncomfortable, and indeed the earthly ease and prosperity of Abraham and Isaac were great by comparison (end of Genesis 47:9). And there’s a clue here, when he says “the days of the years of my sojourning” that Jacob has become more mindful of resurrection (cf. “I will also surely bring you up again,” Genesis 46:4) and eternal life. This life is, by comparison, just a pilgrimage, just a sojourning. 

And it is part of Jacob’s blessedness unto Pharaoh that he would teach him this. How great is the danger to our souls of wealth and comfort and power; and therefore, how great the danger to Pharaoh’s soul (as we discover in the hardness of heart of the subsequent Pharaoh in the opening chapters of Exodus). So it is with even more richness that Jacob follows this with another blessing in Genesis 47:10. Strikingly, the end of verse 10 implies that this was the entire interview!

Strikingly, but ultimately not surprisingly. For, this is the purpose of the family of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—now called, “Israel.” It is a family of sinners, but a family through which will come a Savior. A Savior whose salvation and blessing dwarf any length of earthly life or any hardness of earthly life! A Savior who is not just for Jacob but for Pharaoh, not just for Israel but for Egypt, not just for the family of Abraham, but in Whom all the families of the earth shall be blessed (Genesis 12:3, Genesis 28:14) and all the nations of the earth blessed in him (Genesis 18:18, Genesis 22:18, Genesis 26:4).

Indeed, all who come into God’s Israel are to be a blessing. They are to be salt and light. They are to make disciples. God may use the Egypts of the world to preserve and prosper them, earthly speaking; but, their ultimate purpose is to be a blessing of Christ to them! If you are in Christ, that is the purpose of your sojourn in this world, too!

Through what unbelievers does the Lord preserve and prosper you, earthly speaking? To whom are you a blessing by what various actions of obedience and service unto the Lord? 

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH424 “All Authority and Power”


Saturday, February 27, 2021

2021.02.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 46:31–47:12

Read Genesis 46:31–47:12

Questions from the Scripture text: Who speaks to whom (Genesis 46:31)? What does Joseph tell them he’s going to do? What will he tell Pharaoh is their occupation (Genesis 46:32)? What will Pharaoh ask them (Genesis 46:33)? What are they to say (Genesis 46:34)? Where will Pharaoh give them to dwell (verse 34)? Why? What does Joseph go and tell Pharaoh in Genesis 47:1? How many brothers did he select (Genesis 47:2)? To do what? What does Pharaoh ask (Genesis 47:3)? What did they ask (Genesis 47:4)? To whom does Pharaoh speak in Genesis 47:5? What does he say has happened? What does Pharaoh call Goshen in Genesis 47:6? Where does he say for the brothers to live? What does he say for them to do? Whom does Joseph now bring in (Genesis 47:7)? Who blesses whom? What does Pharaoh ask Jacob (Genesis 47:8)? What does Jacob do (Genesis 47:9)? How does he describe his life? As compared to whose? What does Jacob do in Genesis 47:10? Then what? Where did Joseph situate them (Genesis 47:11)? With what did he provide them (Genesis 47:12)? According to what?

The bulk of the passage is focused upon the plan to get the family assigned to Goshen (Genesis 46:31–34) and the successful execution of that plan (Genesis 47:1–6, Genesis 47:11–12). We’ve been anticipating this ever since Genesis 45:10Genesis 45:18Genesis 45:19. Joseph knows how to leverage both their skill (Genesis 46:32) and their stink (end of Genesis 46:34), and even which brothers should make the presentation (Genesis 47:2). It goes off without a hitch (Genesis 47:6), even landing them some extra duties (and probably perks, which Joseph probably anticipated). 

But the bulk of the passage is not the heart of the passage. The heart of the passage is Pharaoh’s interview with Jacob. The greater blesses the lesser (cf. Hebrews 7:7), so if we’re thinking in fleshly terms then we might be surprised that rather than falling on his face (cf. Genesis 43:26, Genesis 44:14), Jacob’s opening move is to bless Pharaoh (Genesis 47:7). 

It may also have surprised Pharaoh, since his first words are, “how old are you?!” (Genesis 47:8). It’s tempting to hear complaint in Jacob’s response—especially since we know him so well, but the word “evil” can just mean difficult and uncomfortable, and indeed the earthly ease and prosperity of Abraham and Isaac were great by comparison (end of Genesis 47:9). And there’s a clue here, when he says “the days of the years of my sojourning” that Jacob has become more mindful of resurrection (cf. “I will also surely bring you up again,” Genesis 46:4) and eternal life. This life is, by comparison, just a pilgrimage, just a sojourning. 

And it is part of Jacob’s blessedness unto Pharaoh that he would teach him this. How great is the danger to our souls of wealth and comfort and power; and therefore, how great the danger to Pharaoh’s soul (as we discover in the hardness of heart of the subsequent Pharaoh in the opening chapters of Exodus). So it is with even more richness that Jacob follows this with another blessing in Genesis 47:10. Strikingly, the end of verse 10 implies that this was the entire interview!

Strikingly, but ultimately not surprisingly. For, this is the purpose of the family of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—now called, “Israel.” It is a family of sinners, but a family through which will come a Savior. A Savior whose salvation and blessing dwarf any length of earthly life or any hardness of earthly life! A Savior who is not just for Jacob but for Pharaoh, not just for Israel but for Egypt, not just for the family of Abraham, but in Whom all the families of the earth shall be blessed (Genesis 12:3, Genesis 28:14) and all the nations of the earth blessed in him (Genesis 18:18, Genesis 22:18, Genesis 26:4).

Indeed, all who come into God’s Israel are to be a blessing. They are to be salt and light. They are to make disciples. God may use the Egypts of the world to preserve and prosper them, earthly speaking; but, their ultimate purpose is to be a blessing of Christ to them! If you are in Christ, that is the purpose of your sojourn in this world, too!

Through what unbelievers does the Lord preserve and prosper you, earthly speaking? To whom are you a blessing by what various actions of obedience and service unto the Lord? 

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH400 “Gracious Spirit, Dwell with Me”


Friday, February 26, 2021

Rejoicing Always in the Always-Good Lord (Family Worship in Philippians 1:15–18)

How can we rejoice, despite the occurrence of what is most grievous to us? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these four verses, we learn that the apostle was enabled to rejoice because what was most significant to him was what the Lord was doing, and this gave him eyes to see divine good even in the midst of real and grievous human evil.

2021.02.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 1:15–18

Read Philippians 1:15–18

Questions from the Scripture text: What do some do (Philippians 1:15)? From what? And others from what? From what do the former preach Christ (Philippians 1:16)? Supposing to do what? From what do the latter preach Christ (Philippians 1:17)? What did they know? What happened in both ways (Philippians 1:18)? And how does the apostle respond to each? 

We should be careful in judging these gospel preachers. Elsewhere, the apostle strongly denounces those who preach another gospel or a different Christ. These are not the “dogs” or “evil workers” of Philippians 3:2. However, real gospel preachers are still real sinners—and so are apostles and Philippians. 

What if we’re trying to rejoice over the good that God is bringing out of a hard situation, and then as we take a closer look, there is more disappointment and discouragement there than we saw at first glance?

When we’re determined to see God’s wisdom, goodness, and power even in difficult situations, there is a temptation to have too much of our joy wrapped up in the observable evidence of His advancing the gospel, rather than the theological certainty that He is doing so. Surely, this was a temptation that the apostle had faced down and that he now wanted the Philippians to be aware of and avoid. 

The apostle very much desired that believers’ love would abound more and more (Philippians 1:9). So, even if he was not relationally hurt by the motivations of the “some” who preached Christ “from envy and strife” and “from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to [his] chains,” this would have been a blow to the apostle whose heart and life were invested in seeing exactly the opposite condition of their hearts. This is an important caution to us: that the motivations of our hearts are very deceitful, even when we think we are doing good and maybe even are, outwardly, doing good!

But this brings to the forefront the question: upon which are we primarily focusing—upon what man is doing, or upon what God is doing? If we focus upon what man is doing, then there will inevitably be enough disappointment to sink our spirits. But, if we focus upon what God is doing, we are liberated to take real joy from every particle we see of the goodness and power of His grace!

Are some preaching the true Christ out of mixed and even false motives? Well, then we can rejoice not only over the fact that there are others who are emboldened (Philippians 1:14) out of love for both unbelievers and apostles (Philippians 1:17), but that even some of those who are otherwise motivated are still preaching the true gospel of the true Christ (Philippians 1:18). By focusing upon what the Lord is doing, the apostle is enabled to rejoice always (cf. Philippians 4:4), because his rejoicing in the Lord, and the Lord is always doing good!

What is a situation you are discouraged about? What is the Lord doing in it? How can you rejoice in it?

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


Thursday, February 25, 2021

Exalting the LORD Who Made Himself Ours (Prayer Meeting Lesson in Psalm 8)

The infinitely glorious Creator exalted Himself by humbling Himself in order to exalt us!

Coming to Christ, As He Beckons Us to Himself (Family Worship in Luke 13:22–35)

What’s wrong with a theological question about how many are saved? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these fourteen verses, we find the Lord Jesus making sure that we ask such questions first and foremost about the condition of our own soul, because He is that beckoning Lord Who earnestly desires to gather us to Himself.

2021.02.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 13:22–35

Read Luke 13:22–35

Questions from the Scripture text: Through where did He go in Luke 13:22? Toward where? What was He doing? What did one ask Him (Luke 13:23)? What does Jesus tell them to strive to do (Luke 13:24)? What will many seek to do? With what result? If they have not entered when the Master shuts the door, what will happen (Luke 13:25)? What will they protest (Luke 13:26)? How will He answer: what will He say He doesn’t know (Luke 13:27)? What will He command them to do? What will He call them? What will there be (Luke 13:28)? Who will they see where? What will happen to them? From where will people come and do what (Luke 13:29)? What will some last be (Luke 13:30)? What will some first be? On what day does Luke 13:31 occur? Who come to Jesus? What do they tell Him to do? For what reason? What does Jesus call Herod (Luke 13:32)? What will Herod not be able to stop Jesus from doing for the two days? What will Herod not be able to stop Jesus from doing on the third day? So where is Jesus going and why (Luke 13:33)? Who had been sent to Jerusalem before (Luke 13:34)? What had Jesus wanted to do by sending them? What had they done to His messengers? What is going to be the ultimate outcome, now, of Jesus’s visit (Luke 13:35, cf. Luke 13:33)? When will they see Him? What will they say?

This entire passage is tied together by journeying toward Jerusalem (Luke 13:22Luke 13:33Luke 13:35b)—even the images of gates (Luke 13:24) and teaching in the streets (Luke 13:26) are drawn from the trip to Jerusalem and the time there.

But there’s a problem, as Jesus goes up to Jerusalem. It seems like a large number of Israelites are rejecting Him. So one asks, “Lord, are there few who are saved” (Luke 13:23)? It’s the same problem that the apostle is treating, when he deals with his “great sorrow and continual grief” of heart over how many of his “countrymen according to the flesh” are “accursed’ (cf. Romans 9:2–3). It is fitting that such great grief fills both passages.

So, the Lord Jesus doesn’t answer in the arena of election math (how many are saved) but rather in the necessity of having more than church membership and sacraments (“we ate and drank in Your presence,” Luke 13:26), sitting under many sound sermons (“You taught in our streets,” verse 26), and a covenantal understanding of one’s church membership (“Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets,” Luke 13:28). 

You can have all those things, but still be a personal stranger to Christ (“I do not know you,” Luke 13:25Luke 13:27) without a true and real union Him or citizenship in heaven (“where you are from,” verse 25, verse 27), as evidenced in being a “worker of iniquity” (verse 27) rather than a battler against it.

This is why Christ had sent prophets and preachers to Jerusalem (Luke 13:34a)—not to condemn them for their sin, but to gather them to Himself from that sin and against that sin, like a hen gathering her chicks (verse 34b). Indeed, such is the gathering-love of Christ that provokes repentance that they will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and take their seats (Luke 13:29) with the patriarchs and the prophets! Few? Few?! There will be a great multitude!

But it will be a very specific multitude. For each one of us, the place to begin is to see the gathering-love of Jesus, and turn to Him from our sin. To renounce being a worker of iniquity and take refuge under His wings. Then, we will rejoice with our Savior over the multitude who come. And, we will agonize with our Savior over the many who perish (Luke 13:34)—even as we vindicate the justice of God in it all (Luke 13:35).

Hell cannot stop the gathering work of Christ any more than Herod could stop Christ from His ministry (Luke 13:32), or His journey (Luke 13:33), or His death (end of verse 33), or His resurrection (end of verse 32). The resurrected Lord will surely gather to Himself all that are His, and then He will surely return in glory. The primary question for you is not mathematics, but whether He will be your Master when the door of opportunity has closed (Luke 13:25). Are you willing to be His (end of Luke 13:34)? Or would you rather continue as a worker of iniquity? 

How does your life show evidence of gathering to Jesus, hiding in Jesus, loving Jesus, & obeying Jesus?

Suggested Songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH440 “Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Wretched”

 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The Promised Kingdom of the Desperately-Needed Christ-King (Family Worship in 2Samuel 5:1–16)

What holds together these accounts of the establishing and strengthening of God’s anointed king? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these sixteen verses, we find that each description recalls promises of the Satan-crushing, forever-reigning, all-nations-blessing Christ-King, Whom even David desperately needs.

2021.02.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 5:1–16

Read 2 Samuel 5:1–16

Questions from the Scripture text: Who came to whom where (2 Samuel 5:1)? What did they say they are? What had David done when Saul was king (2 Samuel 5:2)? What did they know Yahweh had said to David? Whose arrival at Hebron does 2 Samuel 5:3 specifically mention? What did David make with them? Before Whom? What did they do to David? How old was David when he began to reign (2 Samuel 5:4)? How long did he reign? How long in Hebron (2 Samuel 5:5)? How long in Jerusalem? Who went to Jerusalem in 2 Samuel 5:6? Against whom? Whom did the Jebusites say would repel David? What did they think? Nevertheless, what did David do (2 Samuel 5:7)? What way did David say to climb up there (2 Samuel 5:8)? What did he say would be done for the one who defeated the Jebusites that way?  What did David call the hill when it was taken (2 Samuel 5:9)? What did he build? What did he become (2 Samuel 5:10)? Who was with him? Who sent messengers in 2 Samuel 5:11? With what three gifts? For what purpose? What did David know (2 Samuel 5:12)? What had Yahweh done to David? To His kingdom? For whose sake? What did David take to himself in 2 Samuel 5:13? With what result? Where were these born to him (2 Samuel 5:14)? How many sons total in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:14-16)? What were their names?

The Lord’s own purposes stand behind the rise and advance of His kingdom, even against all opposition external and internal. 

It’s been seven years of the eleven tribes not acknowledging David as king (2 Samuel 5:5). Were they not his bone and flesh all that time (2 Samuel 5:1)? Had they had military history amnesia for seven years, somehow forgetting the exploits that they now recall in 2 Samuel 5:2a? What the Spirit presents to us, even on the people’s lips, is that it is not the people’s relationship with David or recognition of David that is in control here. Yahweh had said “You shall shepherd My people Israel and be ruler over Israel” (verse 2b). 

So all the opposition of Saul and sluggishness of homage of the eleven tribes could not stop 2 Samuel 5:3–5 from coming. They may have anointed David king over Israel in 2 Samuel 5:3, but the anointing that sealed it all took place all the way back in 1 Samuel 16:13—and really, even further back in the eternal purpose and plan of God Himself.

We have the same message in 2 Samuel 5:6-14, where the nations come to bow to God’s anointed king—one way or another. Based upon the historical timing of the taking of Jerusalem and the rise of Hiram to the throne of Tyre, these events are much later than anything else in the chapter. So why are they here? To illustrate, again, that the kingdom is not merely a sequence of historical events with various political and military causes, but the fulfillment of God’s purposes and promises. 

The Jebusites were a tiny little clan (with an overinflated ego, 2 Samuel 5:6) inhabiting one hill in the entire land of Canaan, but they were included in a more prestigious list in Genesis 15:21. Why? So that when we come to 2 Samuel 5:7–8, we don’t say so much, “Ah, what an ingenious military plan by David!” But more, “Ah, what a faithful fulfillment of promise by Yahweh!”

Hiram came to power around 25 years after 2 Samuel 5:3, but with Abrahamic promises in the background, the international acclaim of David in 2 Samuel 5:11-12 hearkens back to Genesis 12:3—God cursing those who curse His people, and blessing those who bless His people, and David’s recognizing in 2 Samuel 5:12 not only that it was Yahweh who had established and exalted His kingdom in David, but especially that this was “For the sake of His people Israel.” 

Genesis 15. Genesis 12. Promises that come from the eternal, saving purpose of God and will not rest until Christ has come to save His people. And come again, with His saved people finally all gathered in and perfected. Promises that control the rise to power in 2 Samuel 5. Promises that control what is going on in the world today, and in your life this week, dear believer.

Promises that overcome even our folly and sin. 2 Samuel 5:13-14 resume (“more,” verse 13) list that began in 2 Samuel 3:2–5. And just in case we hadn’t caught the wickedness of it, the one who really stands out in this list is, “Solomon.” Many point to the fact that the birth of so many sons is a strengthening of David, building upon the theme of the rest of the chapter, and use this fact to justify the multiplication of concubines and wives. 

But isn’t the point just the opposite? Can you really read the rest of 2 Samuel with a “positive” view of the morality and consequences of the Bathsheba incident? The point here is not that David was justified in what he did, but rather that God is glorified in extending mercy and in accomplishing good, even in such folly and wickedness as 2 Samuel 5:13a. There is no glory unto David in the glory of David. There is only glory unto God!

Such a God whose mercy and power overrule the sin of those who belong to Him in Christ is surely worthy not of carelessness that presumes outcomes but rather love and zeal in obedience and service that respond to Him and to His promised outcomes! Shall we not also trust Him and respond with such love and zeal in obedience and service?

What promises did God make to Abraham and David that have already come true? What promises did God make that have not yet come true? How are they coming true in today’s world and in your life?

Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH459 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Union with the Humbled-ly Justifying, Exaltedly Sanctifying Christ (Family Worship in Philippians 2:5–13)

How do we get the right mind, will, and working out of our salvation? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these nine verses, we learn that all of these come from union with the once-humbled, forever-exalted Christ.

2021.02.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 2:5–13

Read Philippians 2:5–13

Questions from the Scripture text: What mind are we to have in us (Philippians 2:5)? Who is in the form of God (Philippians 2:6)? What was not robbery for Christ Jesus? What form did He take (Philippians 2:7)? What likeness? How low did Jesus humble Himself (Philippians 2:8)? Who exalted Him (Philippians 2:9)? What name did He give Him? Which knees will bow at the name of Jesus (Philippians 2:10)? What will every tongue confess (Philippians 2:11)? To whose glory? How does the apostle connect Philippians 2:12 to verse 11? What does he call them here? What have the Philippians always done? Under what circumstances? What are they to do? in what manner? Why (Philippians 2:13)? Who works where? To do what two things? For what?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Philippians 2:5–13, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Union with Thee

Union with Christ forms in us the mind of Christ, Philippians 2:5. Being transformed comes by the renewing of our minds (cf. Romans 12:2). We offer our bodies as living sacrifices (cf. Romans 12:1) by having in us the mind of Him who took a body to give Himself unto death as a sacrifice for us (Philippians 2:6-8).

Union with Christ joins us to Him in the atonement of His death (Philippians 2:8, cf. Romans 6:3–11) and in the power and purpose of His resurrection life (Philippians 2:9-11, cf. Romans 6:4b–11)—that God might be glorified in Christ’s being glorified by our living as His subjects and worshipers (cf. Romans 6:12–19). This is why…

Union with Christ demands that we be zealous for obedient holiness (Philippians 2:12). Though we often think of Philippians 2:12-13 in isolation from Philippians 2:3-11, the apostle joins them with a “therefore.” It is the worthiness of this Jesus Whose mind we have, and by union to Whom we are saved, that demands this holy zeal for working out that salvation.

Union with Christ guarantees the success of that zeal, Philippians 2:13. We lack the willing, but God works in us to will. We lack the doing, but God works in us to do. It pleases Him to produce in us that which pleases Him!

Dear believer, everything that you (newly) are, and everything that you must do depends entirely upon your being united to Christ through faith. This is why such a heavy focus of your Christian life ought to be upon those particular means that He has appointed by which He graciously works out in you your union with Himself. 

In action, the ordinary means of grace are acts of devotion (worship by Word, sacrament, and prayer weekly in the assembly and by Word and prayer daily in the home). But in function, they are especially acts of dependence (coming to Christ, for Christ Himself, because we have no goodness or strength in ourselves). 

He gains nothing by our worship, but when He gives us Himself by that worship, not only does He magnify Himself in the worship, but also all the glory for any good in us redounds all the more unto Him!

How are you saved? How can you love others well? How can you love God well? What then should you do?

Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH448 “Union with Thee”


Monday, February 22, 2021

2021.02.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 46:5–30

Read Genesis 46:5–30

Questions from the Scripture text: Who arises from where (Genesis 46:5)? Who are carried in which carts? What do they take with them (Genesis 46:6)? To where? Whom does he bring with him (Genesis 46:7)? How does Genesis 46:8 introduce the next section? Who is named first? Who are his children (Genesis 46:9)? Who is second (Genesis 46:10)? Who are his children? Who third, and what children (Genesis 46:11)? Who fourth (Genesis 46:12)? What sons don’t come and why? What children/grandchildren come? Who is named fifth, with what children (Genesis 46:13)? Who sixth, with what children (Genesis 46:14)? What did all of these have in common (Genesis 46:15)? Who else is in this group? How many altogether? Who is named seventh, with what children (Genesis 46:16)? Who eighth, with what children (Genesis 46:17)? What did these two have in common (Genesis 46:18)? How many were in this group? Which group is named third (Genesis 46:19)? Who were already in Egypt (Genesis 46:20)? Who was the other son (Genesis 46:21)? What children did he have (verse 21)? How many were in this group (Genesis 46:22)? What son of Jacob is named 11th, with what child (Genesis 46:23)? What son 12th, with what children (Genesis 46:24)? What did these two have in common (Genesis 46:25)? How many were in this grouping? How many total went to Egypt that came from the body of Jacob (Genesis 46:26)? How many did this make in total (Genesis 46:27)? Of all of these, whom does Jacob send in Genesis 46:28? To whom? To do what? What does Joseph do (Genesis 46:29)? Where does he go? To whom? What does he do when he gets there? What does Israel say can/should happen now (Genesis 46:30)? Why?

By the time one gets through the Old Testament, the genealogy in this passage will have become familiar. Much expanded versions appear in Numbers 26 and the opening chapters of 1 Chronicles. God, Who promised to multiply Abraham exceedingly, is keeping that promise. And so we can be sure that God, Who promised to bless all of the families and nations of the earth through Abraham, is keeping that greater promise through the keeping of this lesser promise.

And O how it has been kept! There’s some blessed math here. For some reason, Dinah seems to be left out of the tally for Leah’s family, leaving her with 33. Zilpah’s sub-clan has 16. Rachel’s were 14. And Bilhah’s were 7. That gets us to the 70 of Genesis 46:27, but at first he leaves out Jacob himself, Manasse, Ephraim, and Joseph. Even from these numbers, the daughters-in-law have intentionally been left off (which is why Acts 7:5 has the number at 75). 

It all seems pretty intentional to get us from 66 in Genesis 46:26 to 70 in Genesis 46:27. Six was a number of imperfection, seven was a number of perfection/completion, and ten a number of greatness or completion. It is as if the text is pointing out how far short Jacob’s estimation of God’s goodness and faithfulness had fallen. He had spent 22 years focusing on who was missing, and couldn’t see who was there. The Lord was keeping His promises!

When he finally is able to see that this was the case the entire time, there are no words. Genesis 46:29 tells us that it for “a good while,” for a long time, only tears pass between Jacob and Joseph. When Jacob finally finds his voice in Genesis 46:30, the sorrow of the last 22 years have been wiped out, his life feels fulfilled, and he is ready to leave this world. 

If he had been able to see by faith the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen, he wouldn’t have been blind to the sixty-six, to those aspects of God’s keeping His Word that were right in front of his face. And seeing those, he might have been strengthened to trust God for what remained unseen. But how patient the Lord was with him! And how merciful to bring him, at last, to see a little more and to believe God for promises that were yet to come.

Now Christ has come, and there is so much more to support you, dear Christian, against the tendencies of your doubt and unbelief. And the same patient God bears with you, as He bears you up. Trust His Word, and you will better be able to see the keeping of His promises all around you—even as He uses this to strengthen your trust in His Word!

What promises of God have already been kept in Christ? What faithfulness to your life has He added to these?

Suggested songs: ARP119W “Lord, Let My Cry before You Come” or TPH243 “How Firm a Foundation”


Sunday, February 21, 2021

Knowledge of the Unstoppable Gospel Gives Boldness and Fearlessness (2021.02.21 Evening Sermon in Philippians 1:12–14)

The apostle wants us to know that his chains advanced the gospel so that we, too, will be emboldened to speak the Word.

How to See the Blessing of God (2021.02.21 Morning Sermon in Genesis 46:5–30)


"The Lord with us" is the blessedness of the blessing that we can see. "The Lord with us" is the assurance of the blessing that we cannot see. "The Lord with us" is the guarantee of the blessing that has not yet come. God has surrounded us with blessing that we can see, and He has told us of unimaginable blessing that we cannot see, but it requires faith in Him to see either one.

“Of Sanctification” part 7, WCF 13.3.2 — Progress and Perseverance (2021.02.21 Sabbath School)

yet through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome

Saturday, February 20, 2021

2021.02.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 46:5–30

Read Genesis 46:5–30

Questions from the Scripture text: Who arises from where (Genesis 46:5)? Who are carried in which carts? What do they take with them (Genesis 46:6)? To where? Whom does he bring with him (Genesis 46:7)? How does Genesis 46:8 introduce the next section? Who is named first? Who are his children (Genesis 46:9)? Who is second (Genesis 46:10)? Who are his children? Who third, and what children (Genesis 46:11)? Who fourth (Genesis 46:12)? What sons don’t come and why? What children/grandchildren come? Who is named fifth, with what children (Genesis 46:13)? Who sixth, with what children (Genesis 46:14)? What did all of these have in common (Genesis 46:15)? Who else is in this group? How many altogether? Who is named seventh, with what children (Genesis 46:16)? Who eighth, with what children (Genesis 46:17)? What did these two have in common (Genesis 46:18)? How many were in this group? Which group is named third (Genesis 46:19)? Who were already in Egypt (Genesis 46:20)? Who was the other son (Genesis 46:21)? What children did he have (verse 21)? How many were in this group (Genesis 46:22)? What son of Jacob is named 11th, with what child (Genesis 46:23)? What son 12th, with what children (Genesis 46:24)? What did these two have in common (Genesis 46:25)? How many were in this grouping? How many total went to Egypt that came from the body of Jacob (Genesis 46:26)? How many did this make in total (Genesis 46:27)? Of all of these, whom does Jacob send in Genesis 46:28? To whom? To do what? What does Joseph do (Genesis 46:29)? Where does he go? To whom? What does he do when he gets there? What does Israel say can/should happen now (Genesis 46:30)? Why?

There’s something bitter-sweet about Jacob’s statement in Genesis 46:30. At some level, he is recognizing that the Lord has been working marvelously in ways that he couldn’t see. Joseph wasn’t dead. Joseph was alive. And Joseph had been exalted to the pinnacle of Egypt. Egyptian wagons brought the family down (Genesis 46:5), and the chariot of the Egyptian vizier brought Joseph from his palace to Goshen (Genesis 46:29).

But, the bulk of the passage focuses upon something that Jacob had not been able to see clearly: how greatly God had multiplied him. Sixty-six persons who had come from his own body went to Egypt with him (Genesis 46:26), and that doesn’t even count sons’/grandsons’ wives. And the mention of Dinah in Genesis 46:15, and of Serah in Genesis 46:17, seems to imply that of these, a statistically improbable majority were male. 

After the first couple generations of the Abrahamic covenant, this was an astounding explosion of the growth of the kingdom! That’s one reason that it’s helpful to bumble slowly through genealogical lists like this. Even the difficulty (to us) of the names can be helpful, if we don’t just skip over, but slog through instead. 

Each one of these is the life of a member of the visible church, and a testimony to God’s faithfulness to build this family of Abraham through which would come the Seed in Whom all the families of the earth would be blessed. Indeed, such membership rolls of the church should provoke gratitude not boredom, as every name is a testimony to the mercy and faithfulness of God. 

And often, God’s gracious work in their life is quite evident, as we could see with Judah, whom Jacob sends in Genesis 46:28. It has been a marvelous turnaround for this (humanly speaking) forefather of our Lord Jesus. Can Jacob see how marvelous the work of God has been in those years through which he had despaired and moped?

Perhaps his statement in Genesis 46:30 isn’t continuing that unbelief. It calls him “Israel” at this point, after all. But it at very least calls to our attention the evidences of God’s grace in this family generally, and in Judah specifically, that unbelief had hidden from Jacob’s eyes for so many years. 

But rather than congratulate ourselves for catching some of what Jacob had missed, we ought probably to ask ourselves: do I have eyes to see God’s gracious working in me and through me? Do I trust, even without being able to see it, that He is graciously doing so—simply because His true and sure Word says so? May His Spirit give us such eyes and such trust!

What circumstances are discouraging you? What evidence is there of God’s patience and mercy toward you? What evidence is there of His gracious work in and/or through you? Why don’t you even need life-evidence to be able rejoice over it? Where can you find word-evidence to stir up Hebrews 11:1 faith?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH257 “Children of the Heavenly Father”


Friday, February 19, 2021

The Goodness and Glory of God's Wrath (Prayer Meeting Lesson in Psalm 7)

The justness (toward us) of God's wrath, v1–5
The equity (toward enemies) of God's wrath, v6–8
The certainty of God's wrath, v9–10
The fury of God's wrath, v11–13
The aptness of God's wrath, v14–16
The praiseworthiness of God's wrath, v17

Emboldened by Knowing that Christ Always Furthers His Gospel (Family Worship in Philippians 1:12–14)

Why, and what, does the apostle want us “to know”? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these three verses, we hear how the apostle viewed his life (as he did the Philippians’) as part of Christ’s work in furthering the gospel. He shows how this was true of his chains, reports how the soldiers knew this, and how the church in Rome were emboldened by knowing this, desiring that the church in Philippi would also be emboldened by knowing it. We too may be emboldened to speak the Word by the knowledge that the Lord is always advancing the Gospel.

2021.02.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 1:12–14

Read Philippians 1:12–14

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle want (Philippians 1:12)? What does he call them? What resulted from what happened to him? What has become evident (Philippians 1:13b)? To whom (verse 13a)? What has happened to most of the brethren (Philippians 1:14)? 

There’s something marvelous about a Christian who is able to see his own circumstances as a little part in the whole of what Christ is doing in the world. The apostle had viewed the Philippians’ conversion and spiritual growth and ministry that way (cf. Philippians 1:5-7), and we now see him encouraging them to have the same view of his own situation: “I want you to know” (Philippians 1:12).

There’s a lot of “knowing” in the Christian life. And one of the most important things to know is that Christ is always furthering His kingdom, furthering His gospel (verse 12)—and that the circumstances of our lives are part of that unfolding history. 

For Paul, he got to be right on the bleeding edge of it. “Furtherance” is a military word like “advance,” and that’s exactly where the gospel had been advancing. The palace (praetorian) guard of Philippians 1:13 were elite soldiers. There aren’t many sound and godly ministers invited to be embedded with elite soldiers. So, while others might have see the apostle’s chains as a setback (cf. Philippians 1:16), he himself saw it as an advance.

The soldiers would have rotated “Paul duty,” taking turns being chained to him while he was under house arrest in Rome (cf. Acts 28:16). And what would this soldier have told the others, when he was coming off his shift? “You should have heard him praying for those Philippians again—always with so much joy and thanksgiving, that they would grow in love and be filled with fruits of righteousness from Jesus Christ.” Indubitably, Paul would have also been telling these soldiers about Christ. And, the result was that many of the palace guard saw that Paul wasn’t in chains for being a criminal, but because he was enlisted in the service of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who had sent the apostle there for them.

How the Philippian church would have rejoiced! Philippi, after all, was a colony settled largely by retired Roman soldiers. Paul’s ministry to the “special forces secret service” of Rome had encouraged and emboldened the brethren in the church there to evangelize (Philippians 1:14), and he is eager that it would have the same effect upon his brethren back in Philippi.

And oughtn’t it have the same effect upon us? When we see our circumstances as part of Christ’s program for advancing His kingdom, we are no longer discouraged by them. Instead, we look to Him to grow us and make us effective wherever we are in whatever He has given us to do. And, we learn to sympathize with suffering brethren not in a downcast or despairing way, but alongside prayers for their ultimate deliverance, praying that they would be sustained by grace in this believing attitude, and that they would get to see effectual fruit from their service.

What difficult circumstances in your or others’ lives have got your attention right now? How does this passage teach you to think about them? What might you do differently if you saw them as part of Christ’s advance? How can you act on the Spirit’s/apostle’s desire for “you to know”?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH539 “Am I a Soldier of the Cross”


Thursday, February 18, 2021

2021.02.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 13:10–21

Read Luke 13:10–21

Questions from the Scripture text: What was Jesus doing (Luke 13:10)? Where? When? Who else was there (Luke 13:11)? What had caused her infirmity? For how long couldn’t she do what? Who saw her in Luke 13:12? What did He say to her? What did He do to her (Luke 13:13)? What happened, how quickly? How did she respond? Who else responds (Luke 13:14)? With what attitude? Why? Whom does the ruler of the synagogue address? What does he tell them to do? What does he tell them not to do? Whom does Luke 13:15 say answers? What does the Lord call the ruler? What does the Lord point out that they do for whom/what? What does the Lord call the woman (Luke 13:16)? Who had bound her? For how long? What was a good day for Satan’s bond to be broken? What did the Lord’s sayings do to whom (Luke 13:17)? But what did the multitude do? For what? What does He then ask (Luke 13:18)? Like what does He say the kingdom is (Luke 13:19)? What did the man in the word picture do to it? What happened to the mustard seed? What does He ask in Luke 13:20? Like what does He now say the kingdom is (Luke 13:21)? What did the woman in the word picture do to it? What happened to the leaven?

In Luke 13:18–21, Jesus is basically saying, “you’ve hardly seen anything yet.” Verse 18 starts with “then” (“δέ” i.e., “but/and” for the Greek readers), letting us know that Luke gives us Jesus’s comments in connection with Luke 13:10–17 as a whole, and verse 17 specifically. 

It was a pretty big deal. Satan himself had doubled over this poor woman for 18 years (Luke 13:16), but Jesus had declared the Sabbath as “Freedom From Satan Day” (n.b. His “ought” in verse 16, which is the same Greek word as the ruler’s “ought” in Luke 13:14; “δεῖ” i.e. “it is necessary” or “isn’t it necessary”). 

The ruler subscribed to the idea that Sabbath regulations ought to feel crushing, but Jesus said that it’s actually mandatory to be freed on the Sabbath. This dear woman seems to have had that idea/hope. Here she was, 18 years into being doubled over by the devil, but she was still in church to hear the soul-freeing words of Jesus Christ (Luke 13:11)! We should all have her idea of freedom. And when Jesus unbound her, the very first thing she did was glorify God (Luke 13:13). Jesus has His compassionate eye upon us to free us on the Sabbath day in His holy assembly (Luke 13:12). And we should desire that all would come to Jesus and be freed by Jesus, Lord’s Day by Lord’s Day.

So it was, in fact, a pretty big deal. And the crowd’s reaction of rejoicing at Christ’s glory (Luke 13:17) is the right reaction. It’s the reaction that we should have every week as Jesus saves sinners, sanctifies saints, and hastens the final coming of His kingdom in its fullness.

It’s this last part of His Sabbath-workings that Jesus is focusing upon in Luke 13:18–21. He’s telling us that what happened to that daughter of Abraham (cf. Luke 13:16) that day at church is actually part of a larger program for ALL of the children of Abraham. The kingdom of God, the kingship of Jesus, is something that He is determined to do until it is done for all upon whom He has set His electing love. And that’s something truly to rejoice over. Glorious things are done by Him (end of Luke 13:17) every Lord’s Day, and we should be participating and celebrating “Freedom From Satan Day” as “Thy Kingdom Is Here And Thy Kingdom Come Day” every single week. Truly, it is The Lord’s Day!

In what ways do pursue and participate in Jesus’s freeing us from Satan every Lord’s Day? How do you celebrate that? How do you help others find this freedom and keep this focus?

Suggested Songs: ARP146 “Praise the Lord” or TPH153 “O Day of Rest and Gladness ”


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Real Danger of Difficult and Unstable Times (Family Worship in 2Samuel 4)

What is the greatest danger in difficult times? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these twelve verses, we find that the difficulty of their times led Baanah and Rechab into self-deception, thinking that they were being wise when they were really being cowardly, and that they were advancing the kingdom when they were really being wicked. Our own sin is our greatest danger, but we may look to the Lord to protect us from it by humble trust in Him and simple submission and obedience to Him.

2021.02.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 4

Read 2 Samuel 4

Questions from the Scripture text: Who heard what in 2 Samuel 4:1? How did he respond? What effect did this have upon whom? What two men does 2 Samuel 4:2 mention? What was their role, and where were they from (2 Samuel 4:2-3)? Upon whom does 2 Samuel 4:4 focus at first? Upon whom by the end? What happened to him? How/why? Who come to whom, where, and when, in 2 Samuel 4:5? Into where did they go, pretending to do what (2 Samuel 4:6)? But what did they do instead? With what did they escape (2 Samuel 4:7)? To whom did they bring it (2 Samuel 4:8)? How did they describe Saul? Whom did they describe as having done what to whom? With what work of Yahweh does David begin his answer to Rechab and Baanah (2 Samuel 4:9)? Of what incident does he inform/remind them (2 Samuel 4:10)? How does their action compare to that one (2 Samuel 4:11)? What does David say they have done and that he must now do? What does David command to be done to Rechab and Baanah (2 Samuel 4:12)? What do they do with the head of Ishbosheth?

Self-deception is rather easy, but it is ultimately quite deadly.

Baanah and Rechab thought they were clever, when they were really cowardly brutes. Three times, the text mentions that they killed Ishbosheth in his own house while he was asleep in his own bed (2 Samuel 4:62 Samuel 4:72 Samuel 4:11). It’s the last mention that is most telling, because it comes from David, who could only have known it from their own lips after they sprinted all afternoon, evening, and night to get to him (2 Samuel 4:7b). Apparently, they had thought it so clever that they had told David themselves. But he found it more wicked than wise (2 Samuel 4:11a), more culpable than clever (verse 11b). 

We too can congratulate ourselves for cleverness and not notice that really, our schemes are just enabling us to do what is wrong at low risk to ourselves.

They also thought (or at least insinuated) that they were accomplishing the will of God, when they were really just violating the Word of God. “We’re the delivering instruments of Yahweh,” they say in 2 Samuel 4:8. How very theological and spiritual of them! But David’s theology is too robust for that; “Yahweh has delivered me from every single trouble,” he says in 2 Samuel 4:9 (i.e., He doesn’t need murderers’ help!). 

Professing Christians often claim theological and spiritual motives for worship that pleases men not God, indulging unconverted children rather than bringing them under the means of grace—even invoking the “Spirit’s leading” for such wicked things as leaving their wife (husband) for someone they “feel more spiritually connected to.” I’m sure you can produce more examples. With God’s help, you might even find examples in your own heart and life. David wasn’t fooled; how much less is God fooled by our pious framing of our follies and sins!

As for David, the temptation would have been to reward Rechab and Baanah. With Abner and Ishbosheth out of the way, these two captains of troops (2 Samuel 4:2) represented a way to rally the northerners, who were still a bit rattled (2 Samuel 4:1). But this is not God’s way. God’s way is to execute murderers (2 Samuel 4:12). God Himself would see to the kingdom (cf. chapter 5), just as He had delivered David out of every trouble (2 Samuel 4:9). This freed David to do what is right, and it is a glimpse of the justice of great David’s greater Son, to Whom vengeance belongs. On the one hand, this should terrify us into repentance and faith (cf. Psalm 2:9–12). On the other hand, it should free us to do good even to our enemies (cf. Romans 12:19–21).

If we are going to evade self-deception, it must be by the Spirit’s blessing to us that marvelous certainty that Christ’s kingdom will come, and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. It all belongs to Him, so let us kiss the Son lest we perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him—and they are liberated to do what He says is right, rather than what they think “will work.”

What wrong choices/actions are you tempted to theologize justifying? What helps you see yourself rightly?

Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH459 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”


Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Saved by Christ, in Christ, for Christ (Family Worship in Colossians 3:1–11)

How high is our confidence and our calling? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these eleven verses, we find that as those whose hope is as unassailable as the throne of glory, that throne is how high we should be aiming with the love, obedience, and service of all of our thoughts, feelings, words, and actions.

2021.02.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Colossians 3:1–11

Read Colossians 3:1–11

Questions from the Scripture text: What has happened to believers with Christ (Colossians 3:1)? What should they seek? Why—Who is there? What else are we to do with “things above” (Colossians 3:2)? Upon what are we not to set our minds? What has happened to believers in Colossians 3:3? With Whom is their life hidden? Where is their life hidden? Who will appear (Colossians 3:4)? Who also will appear with Him? In what condition? What are we to do with our worldly aspects—that part of us that will end with this world (Colossians 3:5)? Which specific, worldly (sinful) aspects of us (that we are to put to death) does he mention? What is happening because of these things (Colossians 3:6)? What two ways does Colossians 3:7 describe how they used to act upon their inward sin? What six other things do Colossians 3:8-9 identify as things that believers need to put off? What have believers put off (verse 9b)? What have they put on (Colossians 3:10)? In what is the new man renewed? According to whose image is the new man renewed? What factors/aspects are not part of the newness of the new man (Colossians 3:11)? 

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Colossians 3:1–11, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Christ, of All My Hopes the Ground. God has saved us by Christ, in Christ, and for Christ. 

God has saved us by Christ. In our place, Jesus has lived the perfectly obedient life that we could not. In our place, Jesus has died under the wrath and curse of God that we deserve but could never satisfy.

But God has not only saved us by Christ. He has saved us in Christ. When we believe in Jesus, we are joined to Him. Colossians 3:3 tells us that we died in Christ’s death. But it also says that our life is hidden with Christ in God—so that if you trust in Jesus Christ, the way to read Colossians 3:1 is not so much “if then you were raised with Christ,” but rather, “because you have been raised with Christ. Christ didn’t just give His life for us, but as Colossians 3:4 says, Christ is our life.

And God has saved us for Christ. We live on earth, but the purpose of our earthly life is the glory of Christ by Whom and for Whom we have been saved. He is seated at the right hand of God, and His is all the glory. Colossians 3:11 tells us that Christ is all and in all. And what is part of the glory of Christ at His appearing? Our appearing with Him—also glorious.

Christ will take those who were full of the things in the lists of Colossians 3:5 and Colossians 3:8—we formerly walked in them (Colossians 3:6)! And, He will have made us entirely the opposite. He has “renewed us in knowledge according to the image of [Christ].” What will be the great distinguishing characteristic about us on that day? Not our ethnicity, or ceremonial markings, or culture, or socioeconomic status—but that we have been transformed from wickedness into the spitting moral images of Jesus Christ.

So, as we consider Him where He is right now, and how we have been saved to bring Him glory, that gives us marching orders for the rest of our lives. Christians often want to know about the particular future events of our lives. But Deuteronomy 29:29 calls those “secret things.” Whatever else we are called to, we are called to put to death the list in Colossians 3:5, to put off the list in Colossians 3:8, to follow Jesus in obedience to all the commands of His Word—what Deuteronomy 29:29 calls “the revealed things.”

Why? Because we have been saved not just by Christ and in Christ. We have been saved for Christ.

How does God’s method of killing sin point to your only hope? Who is that hope? What hope does He give?

Suggested songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken” or TPH447 “Christ, of All My Hopes the Ground”


Monday, February 15, 2021