Each week we webcast Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, morning public worship at 11a, and p.m. singing and sermon at 3p (sermon at 3:45); and the Weds. Prayer Meeting at 6:30p

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

Praying and Working for Christian Love to Grow Continually, Definedly, Completely, Organically, Doxologically (2021.02.14 Evening Sermon in Philippians 1:9–11)

We must pray and work for our own and others' love to grow continually, definitively, completely, organically, and doxologically.

God Himself Is His Own Greatest Provision (2021.02.14 Morning Sermon in Genesis 45:16–46:4)


We must neither have false hope in man nor despair about man, because we have One, Whose sure plan and presence ought always to gladden and strengthen us.

The Remaining Corruption May for a Time Prevail (Sanctification, part 6, WCF 13.3.1; 2021.02.14 Sabbath School)

...In which war, although the remaining corruption, for a time, may much prevail...

2021.02.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 45:16–46:4

Read Genesis 45:16–46:4

Questions from the Scripture text: Who heard what in Genesis 45:16? How do they respond? What does Pharaoh tell Joseph to do (Genesis 45:17)? What are the brothers to bring (Genesis 45:18)? What will Pharaoh give them? What will they eat? What is Joseph to command the brothers take, for what purpose (Genesis 45:19)? About what does he say not to be concerned (Genesis 45:20)? Why? What is the response in Genesis 45:21? What provision for each man does Genesis 45:22 specifically mention? Who is singled out how? Whose provision does Genesis 45:23 single out? What is it? With what additional instruction does Joseph send them (Genesis 45:24)? When they arrive back (Genesis 45:25), and tell Jacob (Genesis 45:26), how does he respond and why? What does he hear, and what does he see, in Genesis 45:27? With what result? What is Jacob now called in Genesis 45:28? What is the first thing that he says? What is enough? What does he say that he will go do? What does he seem to think will immediately follow? What does he bring (Genesis 46:1)? Where does he arrive in verse 1? What does he do there? To Whom (what Name does verse 1 use)? Who speaks in Genesis 46:2? How (in what)? How does He address him—with what name, how many times? What does Jacob say? What two things does God say about Himself (Genesis 46:3)? What does God tell him not to do? Why—what does God promise that He will do? Who will go where with whom (Genesis 46:4)? What else will He do (cf. Genesis 50:24–25)? Who else will do what (Genesis 46:4)?

Pharaoh gives Jacob’s family royal authorization and protection (“Now you are commanded,” Genesis 45:19), as well as provision (Genesis 45:18Genesis 45:20).  And Joseph follows the instruction (Genesis 45:21, 23), adding the family’s love-language of garments (Genesis 45:22, cf. Genesis 37:3). If these things hadn’t have come along, Jacob wouldn’t have come, since he didn’t trust his sons (Genesis 45:26), for which we can hardly blame him. The detailed report (Genesis 45:27a) helped a bit, and Jacob does trust his eyes (verse 27b), so he resolves to leap into action (Genesis 45:28), with the text notably switching back to the use of “Israel” at this point.

The last stop in Canaan is Beersheba—an important place in God’s dealings with Abraham and Isaac. It is probably for that reason that Israel offers sacrifices there, even referring to God as “the God of his father Isaac” (Genesis 46:1). But it is possibly for this reason that he is also afraid. Abraham had stumbled in going to Egypt (cf. Genesis 12:10–20). Isaac had been directly forbidden to go there (cf. Genesis 26:2). What if this was the wrong thing to do?

So the Lord appears to him, and commands him not to fear going down (Genesis 46:3). God assures him not only of his plan “I will make of you a great nation there” but also of his presence “I Myself will go down with you to Egypt, and returning, I will return you” (Genesis 46:4). He even gives him a physical action that will remind and reinforce to him these promises, “And Joseph will put his hand on your eyes.”

Should Jacob have believed God’s promises this whole time? Absolutely. Should he have been leading his family continually in the kind of worship in Genesis 46:1? Yes! So we see God appearing to him to reinforce (even with new detail) the promise of His plan and of His presence, and we are to say, “What a patient and merciful God!” And He is our God, who has filled His Word with these promises, and added to it the physical signs of His sacraments!

In what ways has doubt and anxiety cropped up in your life? Where do God’s Word and sacrament meet you?

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


Saturday, February 13, 2021

What It Looks Like to Be Borne upon Eagles' Wings (2021.02.13 Pastoral Letter and Hopewell Herald)

Dear Congregation,

This year, I’ve been using Ben Shaw’s reading plan, which brought me this week through Exodus 19. v4 amazed me, “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.”

The second half of that verse is a pretty interesting way to describe the time since His destruction of the Egyptians at the Red Sea to their arrival at Sinai. It had taken them all of three days to complain that they were dying of thirst (end of ch15), then a few more weeks to complain that they were dying of hunger (ch 16), then ready to kill Moses and go back to Egypt from thirst again (first half of ch17), then the Amalekites had made war upon them (second half of ch17).

All of this had happened in just three months (19:1)! This is what it’s like to be borne by Yahweh on Eagles’ wings?

There’s probably some joke to be made here about the comparative length of time that it took to make the rest of the trip to Canaan, but what stands out is how marvelously patient God is with His sinful people.

Indeed, He bears us along despite much wicked unbelief and complaining in our hearts (or even with our mouths). Not only is He perfectly executing His plan for bringing us to complete and everlasting blessedness in glory, but along the way all of the mishaps are ultimately part of His bearing us upon on eagles’ wings.

And a big part of that bearing us upon eagles’ wings is His patience with us, and His faithfulness to correct and sanctify us. If we are believers, then our merciful God is absolutely determined to produce in us that holiness without which we will not see Him.

So, let us rejoice over the ordinary means of grace in His public worship! Yes, trial is part of what He providentially uses to sanctify us. But, He has especially appointed the means of grace as the actions by which He magnifies Himself, and gives us fellowship with Himself, in our assemblies. So, He has filled His worship with the very instruments by which His Spirit produces faith in us to join us to Christ and to grow us by the grace of Christ and the knowing of Christ.

In Him Who bears us upon eagles’ wings,

Pastor

2021.02.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 45:16–46:4

Read Genesis 45:16–46:4

Questions from the Scripture text: Who heard what in Genesis 45:16? How do they respond? What does Pharaoh tell Joseph to do (Genesis 45:17)? What are the brothers to bring (Genesis 45:18)? What will Pharaoh give them? What will they eat? What is Joseph to command the brothers take, for what purpose (Genesis 45:19)? About what does he say not to be concerned (Genesis 45:20)? Why? What is the response in Genesis 45:21? What provision for each man does Genesis 45:22 specifically mention? Who is singled out how? Whose provision does Genesis 45:23 single out? What is it? With what additional instruction does Joseph send them (Genesis 45:24)? When they arrive back (Genesis 45:25), and tell Jacob (Genesis 45:26), how does he respond and why? What does he hear, and what does he see, in Genesis 45:27? With what result? What is Jacob now called in Genesis 45:28? What is the first thing that he says? What is enough? What does he say that he will go do? What does he seem to think will immediately follow? What does he bring (Genesis 46:1)? Where does he arrive in verse 1? What does he do there? To Whom (what Name does verse 1 use)? Who speaks in Genesis 46:2? How (in what)? How does He address him—with what name, how many times? What does Jacob say? What two things does God say about Himself (Genesis 46:3)? What does God tell him not to do? Why—what does God promise that He will do? Who will go where with whom (Genesis 46:4)? What else will He do (cf. Genesis 50:24–25)? Who else will do what (Genesis 46:4)?

It’s very encouraging when God turns what we can see of the earthly tide in our favor. Imagine the encouragements to Jacob. He hears that Joseph is still alive (Genesis 45:27a). He sees the evidence of it (verse 27b). His son is now the governor over all the land of Egypt (Genesis 45:26). And the “all the words” of Genesis 45:27 include Pharaoh himself saying “Don’t even worry about bringing what you have (Genesis 45:20a), because this load of stuff from Egypt and chariots from Egypt (cf. Genesis 45:17Genesis 45:19) is just the down payment of the best of all the land of Egypt (twice, Genesis 45:18 and Genesis 45:20b).

But we all know that this can be an illusion. Earthly power or peace, like earthly prosperity, sprouts wings and flies away (cf. Proverbs 23:5). It vanishes like the morning mist. Even as the text subtly hints at the strengthening of Jacob’s faith by switching the personal reference to him from ‘Jacob’ in Genesis 45:27 to ‘Israel’ in Genesis 45:28, he is not buying into all the grandiose promises. His contentment is modest. It is enough comfort that Joseph his son is alive. It is enough to hope for that he might see him once before he dies.

But this is still a weakness of faith, because while Pharaoh’s promises are grandiose, Jacob does have better promises to cling to that are infinitely grand! And he knows of those promises. 

He comes to Beersheba, where there is the “well of swearing” that bears testimony to God’s faithfulness in the lives of Abraham and Isaac. It is a reminder that the Lord has strengthened His people among the Philistines in time past to be a blessing not just to them but to all the families of the earth. 

Importantly, it is the southernmost point of the promised land, and he is about to pass down now into “official” Egyptian territory. Here, he is reminded of God’s promises, and here he responds as his grandfather and father had done, with worship through sacrifices that point forward to the cross of their promised Seed, the Lord Jesus Christ.

But there is a phrase that the text uses in v1 that takes us back to Bethel. There, Yahweh had announced Himself as God of Abraham and Isaac (cf. Genesis 28:13), before proceeding to promise “I am with you, and will keep you wherever you go” (cf. Genesis 28:15). For his part, Jacob hasn’t seemed to operate much out of confidence in that promise. And the one who had said “then Yahweh shall be my God” (cf. Genesis 28:21) is still thinking of God as the God of his father Isaac (Genesis 46:1). 

But when Yahweh identifies Himself that way (Genesis 46:3), He is doing more than identifying Himself as the One upon Whom Jacob has called. “Jacob, Jacob!” He says. It is as if to imply that he ought to know himself as Israel but still knows himself far too much as Jacob. “I am God” would be identification enough. “I am the God of your father” would be identification enough. But when He pairs the two, He is emphasizing the covenant relationship—a covenant relationship that had been extended by promise and oath to Jacob. Jacob should not continue to be what he was, but Yahweh will always consistently be Who He is!

So, God gives Jacob something infinitely more solid and glorious to cling to than the promises of the most powerful man in the world. The best of all the land of Egypt are nothing compared to the dusty old promises to Abraham and Isaac. “I will make of you a great [all-families-of-earth blessing] nation there.” The best earthly prospects are nothing compared to the dusty old promises of Bethel, “I will go with you. I will bring you up again.”

Even in the most difficult and threatening earthly circumstances, we have something far more encouraging than the easiest and most promising circumstances: God Himself, and the promises that have their yes and amen in Christ! If Joseph had been dead, and the famine unsolvable, and the Pharaoh hostile, those things still should have held for Jacob. The most important part of God’s mercifully turning those things around for him was that it was a gentle earthly providence as a means of bringing about promises that must certainly have come true, regardless of however the Lord ultimately brought them about.

Whatever hardship or prosperity the Lord brings you into dear Christian, cling not to the circumstances but to the God of those circumstances who has made you unstoppable ultimate promises in the Lord Jesus Christ!

What can you know about God’s purposes for your current circumstances? What do you know about God Himself?

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


Friday, February 12, 2021

Praying for Growth in Christian Love (Family Worship in Philippians 1:9–11)

What was it that the apostle was praying so joyfully for the Philippians? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these three verses, we find that he was praying for growth in love—a growth that is the work of Christ, until the day of Christ, defined by the law of Christ, produced by the life of Christ, to the praise of God’s glory in Christ.

2021.02.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 1:9–11

Read Philippians 1:9–11

Questions from the Scripture text: What is the apostle doing in Philippians 1:9? For whom? That what may abound? How much? In what two areas? How much discernment? What will these two enable them to approve (Philippians 1:10)? What two results would this have in the Philippians themselves? Until when? What would they be filled with (Philippians 1:11)? How do such fruits grow? Unto what? 

If the apostle’s love for them is an expression of the very love of Christ Himself (cf. Philippians 1:7-8), then we are not surprised that one of his hopes about the Lord’s ongoing work in them (cf. Philippians 1:6), is that their own love will increase. Surely, this is one of the reasons that he is writing to them. 

But, as he has acknowledged that it is ultimately the Lord’s work and the Lord’s love that must have the desired effect, he must first pray for them. If we are laboring but not praying, then we give the lie to the idea that we depend upon the Lord for the fruit of our work. We are commanded to do more than pray, but we dare not think that we are commanded to do less!

So he prays that their love will grow continually. “More and more.” Inactivity in the Christian life is always stagnating. We are in a constant battle (cf. Romans 7, 1 John 1, etc.), and if you aren’t actively standing or advancing, you will be passively (or actively) backsliding. He prays that their love will grow “more and more.”

And he prays that their love will grow definitively. “In knowledge and all discernment.” Christian love is not a nebulous and mushy thing, because Christ’s love is not a nebulous and mushy thing. He has defined everywhere in His Word the plans and purposes that demonstrate His love, ultimately and supremely the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. And He defines for us everywhere in His Word the commandments and principles that direct for us what it is to love God, to love one another, and to love neighbor (even enemy-neighbors!). Biblical love is defined. And the apostle’s prayer is that they would grow in understanding and application of every aspect of that definition. “ALL discernment” leaves no part of it out.

And he prays that their love will grow superlatively. There is an endpoint in view of their being “sincere and without offense” in the day of Christ. Another good translation is “pure and blameless.” This is what they have been elected for (cf. Ephesians 1:4), and this is what the apostle is confident of (cf. Philippians 1:6). If that is the aim at the end, then that is the aim throughout the process: “that you may approve the things that are excellent [best].”

So, he prays that their love will grow organically and doxologically. That is to say as fruit from Jesus Christ unto the praise of God in Jesus Christ. Just as the apostle must not only work, but here pray, because he knows that this is the way in which love grows; so also, when the prayers have been fully answered, and the work is fully done, the ultimate end is that all will see that it has come from Christ so that all can engage in the praise of God’s glory in Christ.

Let us pray—and work!—that our love would grow continually, definitively, superlatively, organically, and doxologically!

In what expressions must your love grow? How can you learn the answer to that? Who will make it happen?

Suggested songs: ARP51AB “God Be Merciful to Me” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”


Thursday, February 11, 2021

How to Plead with God in Our Pain (2021.02.10 Prayer Meeting lesson in Psalm 6)

Addressing God’s heart, v1
Appealing to God’s compassion, v2–3, 6–7
Aspiring to God’s glory, v4–5
Assuming God’s answer, v8–10

Recognizing and Taking Opportunities for Repentance (Family Worship in Luke 13:1–9)

How should we respond when calamity strikes? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these nine verses, the Lord Jesus continues the theme, from the end of chapter 12, of being reconciled with God before we have to stand before Him at the judgment. When calamity and death befall others or threaten us, it is a fertile opportunity for us to examine ourselves, turn from sin unto Christ, and grow more fruitful by His grace.

2021.02.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 13:1–9

Read Luke 13:1–9

Questions from the Scripture text: What did some people tell Jesus about in Luke 13:1? What does Jesus recognize that these people had concluded about those who died (Luke 13:2)? What does Jesus say should have, instead, been their conclusion (Luke 13:3)? Concerning what other event does Jesus challenge them concerning their conclusions (Luke 13:4)? What same conclusion does He teach them to draw in Luke 13:5? To what does Jesus compare an unrepentant person in Luke 13:6? What does the property owner say to do with the fruitless tree in Luke 13:7? What does the caretaker say that He will do first in Luke 13:8? What will be done if it still bears no fruit (Luke 13:9)?

How should we respond to plagues? Government oppression? Economic disaster? Or other calamities?

It seems, from Jesus’s question in Luke 13:2 that they assumed that what had happened to the Galileans was punishment for some specific sin of theirs. And we know that in both the Old and New Testaments, the Lord did threaten and carry out particular punishments upon His people at particular times. So, maybe we have wondered if when something hard comes upon us, whether that’s a particular quid pro quo for a particular sin.

But unless the Lord has threatened something particularly, we do not have good ground to assume a direct relationship. There are many reasons that believers suffer, including to increase God’s wrath against their enemies, to have fellowship with Christ, to know their own weakness, to be sanctified and prepared for glory, and even just to glorify God.

But there is one thing that we must always do, with any kind of calamity: remember God’s wrath, repent of our sin, and cling to Jesus Christ. By introducing the second calamity (Luke 13:4), and saying the same thing about it (Luke 13:3Luke 13:5), the Lord Jesus makes clear that this is an all-purpose application. “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

Jesus says that what we are to see is that God is very angry with sin. Look what sin has brought! And this is just the slightest display of it. Sin doesn’t just deserve for us to be slaughtered by Roman provincial governors or have towers fall upon us. It deserves the unquenchable flame of the lake of fire, together with undying worms that consume us from the inside out forever. Every calamity is a reminder of this.

But we are also to see that glorious word, “unless.” That the Lord is patiently calling us unto repentance. He is giving us opportunity to believe. And He is grabbing our attention and stimulating us to cling to Christ and bear fruit in keeping with repentance.

Calamities, says our Lord, function like the Lord digging down around us and fertilizing us to produce fruit. He is patiently provoking us to repentance. The question, then, is what will He find this effort has produced?

Of what do you personally need to repent? Of what your family? Of what your church? Of what your country?

Suggested Songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH340 “There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood”


Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Defeating the Deceptiveness of Pride and Passion by Devotion to Principle (Family Worship in 2Samuel 3:12–39)

How would the Lord bring David the kingdom? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these twenty-eight verses, we see Abner’s pride in having positioned himself powerfully to consolidate the kingdom under David. The Lord does do it by using Abner—at his funeral? And we see Joab making show of concern about kingdom security, although the text makes clear that he is really being moved by fleshly revenge. Still, the Lord uses him—by humiliating him as the second-mourner-in-charge at the funeral of the man he murdered! Ultimately for David, the Lord used his commitment to do what is right before the eyes of the people to give him favor in the eyes of all the tribes through an action that ended up being exactly opposite what usually happens during regime-change.

2021.02.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 3:12–39

Read 2 Samuel 3:12–39

Questions from the Scripture text: Who claims to control the land in a message to whom (2 Samuel 3:12)? What does he ask David to do? What does he say he can/will do? What does David require first (2 Samuel 3:13)? What won’t Abner see if this doesn’t happen? To whom does David then formally make this request (2 Samuel 3:14)? But what had Saul done (cf. 1 Samuel 25:44)? What does Ishbosheth now do (2 Samuel 3:15)? With what initial result (2 Samuel 3:16)? But who intervenes? Of what does Abner remind whom in 2 Samuel 3:17? What does he tell them to do in 2 Samuel 3:18? What other reasoning does he add? Whom does he specifically address in 2 Samuel 3:19? Then to whom does he report their responses? How many people does he bring with him (2 Samuel 3:20)? What does David do for them? What does Abner say that he will do in 2 Samuel 3:21? What does he say that the people will do? What does he say that David will do? Where does Abner go? Then who immediately arrives from what (2 Samuel 3:22)? What does Joab find out (2 Samuel 3:23)? What does Joab say about the wisdom of this (2 Samuel 3:24-25)? Then what does Joab do (2 Samuel 3:26)? From whom does he keep this? What does Joab pretend to want from Abner (2 Samuel 3:27)? But what does he do instead? Why? When David hears about this, about what is he concerned before Whom (2 Samuel 3:28)? What does he declare? Upon whom does he call down the guilt (2 Samuel 3:29)? With what curse? How does 2 Samuel 3:30 summarize the entire incident? Whom, especially, does David command in 2 Samuel 3:31? And whom else? To do what? Who is the lead mourner? What does he do (2 Samuel 3:32)? Who follow this cue? Who composes what in 2 Samuel 3:33-34? About what specific circumstance of Abner’s death does he lament? What does he call Joab? What do the people do? What else does David do as an act of mourning (2 Samuel 3:35)? What do the people think of this (2 Samuel 3:36)? What else pleased them? What did they all now know (2 Samuel 3:37)? How does David summarize the event in 2 Samuel 3:38? What does he say was the effect upon himself (2 Samuel 3:39)? What does he say about Joab and Abishai? Whom does he have hope will do what about it?

Usually, when an ancient king arose, the first priority for him was to establish his power by eliminating or crippling all possible opposition. And we can see a hint of that in David’s request for Michal (2 Samuel 3:13). The resumption of that marriage with the daughter of Saul would be a step toward consolidating the house of Saul (and the rest of Israel) into his kingdom. And Abner is useful unto this end, not only overruling poor Paltiel to ensure the Michal transaction goes through (2 Samuel 3:16), but also making sure that the desired ultimate outcome is secured (2 Samuel 3:17-19).

So by ordinary human (fleshly) logic, it would seem not to be a problem that Joab would go from obtaining kingdom spoil (2 Samuel 3:22a) to eliminating kingdom competition (2 Samuel 3:24-25), even though Joab had not only obvious but divinely-emphasized (2 Samuel 3:27b2 Samuel 3:30b) ulterior motives. This is just the kind of thing that all the other kings did.

But David isn’t “all the other kings”! He’s the one whom Yahweh has anointed and sworn to enthrone (2 Samuel 3:18), who is more concerned about guilt before God (2 Samuel 3:28) than consolidated power—so that Joab’s “thanks” for breaking the covenant of peace from 2 Samuel 3:20-21 is a horrible curse(2 Samuel 3:29). 

And David’s first great act of leadership over the united kingdom is not levying legislation but rather leading lament. He’s the sack-clothed mourner in chief (2 Samuel 3:31), the keynote weeper (2 Samuel 3:32), the royal poet laureate (2 Samuel 3:33-34), and hosts not the inaugural ball but the inaugural fast (2 Samuel 3:35). All of this has the earthly appearance of weakness, and indeed David feels it (cf. 2 Samuel 3:38-39). But when God’s grace is your main program, He often conspires to be your Strength in the midst of your weakness (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:8–10), and He gives David the hearts of all the people (2 Samuel 3:36) such that lamentation leadership becomes a great galvanizing event in the newly united kingdom (2 Samuel 3:36-37).

Our forever-King, the Lord Jesus, is the ultimate guiltless One (cf. 2 Samuel 3:28), but He Himself has borne (and eliminated!) upon His cross our dreadful curse (much worse than 2 Samuel 3:29). And He perfectly leads us in lament (cf. much of the Psalms) and every other right response before God. Yahweh has sworn to Him (cf. 2 Samuel 3:18) that He will save us with a great and complete salvation, and that the nations and the ends of the earth will be His kingdom forever (cf. Psalm 2:7–8). Hail, God’s anointed King! 

What is an example of an earthly way of getting power in your social/work/political circles that you should reject?

Suggested songs: ARP7B “God Is My Shield” or TPH46A “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength”


Tuesday, February 09, 2021

The Lord Himself Is Our Portion and Our Power (Family Worship in Psalm 73)

What does thankfulness look like? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these twenty-eight verses, the Psalmist gets a glimpse of God’s glory and realizes that rather than an unrewarded servant, he has really been a wickedly ungrateful brute. But this God of infinite glory has also been to him a God of marvelous patience, and abounding generosity. In fact, God has given to sinners something greater than heaven and earth taken together: Himself. Himself as our portion and Himself as our power.

2021.02.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 73

Read Psalm 73

Questions from the Scripture text: How does the Psalm summarize its teaching in Psalm 73:1? But what does the Psalmist immediately admit about himself, concerning faith in God’s goodness, in Psalm 73:2? What are some things that he had noticed about the wicked in Psalm 73:3-12? What did he conclude about himself and his godliness in Psalm 73:13? What circumstance from Psalm 73:14 had led him to decide that there was no point in being godly? But what would he have done if he had spoken like that out loud (Psalm 73:15)? When he tried to figure this out, what happened (Psalm 73:16)? What ended up making the difference (Psalm 73:17)? Whose end does he understand in Psalm 73:17-20? What does he conclude had been his problem in Psalm 73:21-22? Who is always with him (Psalm 73:23)? Who will receive him into glory (Psalm 73:24)? Whose end is he learning about now? What does that teach him about what to value in Psalm 73:25? What does that teach him about whom to depend upon in Psalm 73:26? What will happen to those who are far from God (Psalm 73:27)? What is good in Psalm 73:28? What is the ultimate purpose of trusting in the Lord in verse 28? 

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Psalm 73, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Be Thou My Vision. Here, we learn one of the great benefits of true worship: it teaches us what a true life of thanksgiving looks like.

It looks like remembering what our end could have been (losing everything we have on earth, and falling into destruction as we are condemned by God). It looks like remembering what our end is instead (enjoying the glorious holiness of God forever and ever). It looks like realizing that we have, now already, Him who is the heavenliness of heaven. We are continually with Him! It is He who holds us by our right hand! It is He who guides us with His counsel! Who is He? The glorious One who will receive us into His own glory.

It looks like concluding that if we have Him, we have already, now, in heaven and earth, more property than we could ever hope to desire. God is our portion forever. It looks like concluding that if we have Him, we have already, now, more power than we could ever fear to need. God is the strength of our heart.

Is God near to us? Then we have not kept our hands clean in vain. Are we far from God? Then we are on the cusp of eternal destruction. Why have we trusted in God? Not so that we can get all the other earthly stuff that we love, but so that we can realize and tell all that God is more glorious and worthy than all else combined!

What trials do you have right now? What earthly things do you desire? How does God compare? How has your life been showing a desire to tell others His praise?

Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH446 “Be Thou My Vision”