Friday, April 30, 2021

Sanctification Worth Great Effort and Great Rejoicing (Family Worship Lesson in Philippians 2:16–18)

For what has the apostle put forth such strenuous effort? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Philippians 2:16–18 prepares us for the first of the two serial readings in the public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these three verses of Sacred Scripture, we hear that the apostle has considered their sanctification worth his strenuous effort, because its outcome will be worth his and their great rejoicing.

2021.04.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 2:16–18

Read Philippians 2:16–18

Questions from the Scripture text: To what does the apostle hope they will hold fast (Philippians 2:16)? What will he do if they do? When? Why? As what does the apostle think he might be being poured out (Philippians 2:17)? Upon what sacrifice or worship/ service? How would he respond to be pouring out this way? What does he want them to do (Philippians 2:18)? With whom?

The apostle has just said that Christians should stand out: blameless in the midst of perversity (Philippians 2:15a) and lights in a dark world (Philippians 2:15b). It is quite possible that in Philippians 2:16a, the apostle has in mind Peter’s words John 6:68–69. In a world where many are denying Christ’s divine kingship and often abandon Him, the apostle hopes that the Philippian believers will never do so—that they would say, “where would we go?” and instead hold fast to Him Who has the words of eternal life.

This is worth running for and rejoicing over.

Currently, the apostle is putting forth strenuous effort. He has called them to strenuous effort (work out your own salvation with fear and trembling), and both terms that he is using of his own part in Philippians 2:16 indicate significant exertion: run and labor.

Why is it worth putting such effort into it on his part? Because in the day of Christ, the things that were worth rejoicing over at the last will be those that have ongoing significance in that day. A sacrifice unto God’s glory is not something lost, but something gained. 

This is what he calls the Philippians’ service of faith unto the Lord and holding fast the words of eternal life. He gives their effort the main billing. But he doesn’t want his efforts to be for nothing (“vain”). He is happy participating in the offering, even if it is just the “drink offering” portion that is poured out upon the main sacrifice.

Christ gets all the glory. It will be the day of Christ. It will have been the work of Christ (God, Who died for us on the cross, and Who worked in us both to will and to work). The work will have been done by the Word of Christ, the word of life.

But there is a sharing of glory and joy, and believers are looking forward both to Christ being exalted in each of our lives, and to rejoicing over the part that each of us had. Not only does the apostle say that he hopes to rejoice over them (Philippians 2:16), but also when his own portion has contributed, he wants them on that day to be glad and rejoice in his behalf (Philippians 2:18). So in God, and in Christ, and in each of us in one another’s lives, that day will be one of mutually reinforcing, reciprocating, compounding joy.

Surely, something that will be worth such rejoicing then is worth strenuous effort in running and laboring now!

How are you putting effort into your own sanctification? How are you putting effort into others’?

Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH469 “Who Are These, Like Stars Appearing”

Thursday, April 29, 2021

How, in Jesus, the Lord Is Our Provision, Goodness, Guard, and Pleasure (Prayer Meeting Lesson in Psalm 16)

We can have no other goodness and no other guard. Therefore, though refusing idolatry can come at great cost, yet we will stick to the LORD alone as our portion, our guard, our goodness, and our pleasure.

Faith on Earth Prays Relentlessly for Justice in the Midst of Trouble (Family Worship Lesson in Luke 18:1–8)

What does Jesus mean when He asks if He will find faith on the earth when He comes? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Luke 18:1–8 prepares us for the second of the two serial readings in the public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these eight verses of Sacred Scripture, we learn that the faith that Jesus is looking for is a faith that is confident that the God Who has elected us for Himself, bears long with us in our afflictions, and desires us to pray for that avenging, which He will bring speedily.

2021.04.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 18:1–8

Read Luke 18:1–8

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Jesus begin speaking to them in Luke 18:1? What is the point of this parable? What is the judge like in Luke 18:2? Who else is in the city? For what does she ask from the judge (Luke 18:3)? How does the judge respond for a while (Luke 18:4)? What does he know himself to still not do? So, why does he decide to get her justice (Luke 18:5)? To whom does the Lord tell them to listen in Luke 18:6? Whom does He say God will more surely listen to (Luke 18:7)? What should they be doing day and night? How long will it take for Him to give them justice (Luke 18:8)? With what question does Jesus conclude this lesson about not losing heart in prayer? 

The Holy Spirit tells us the point of the parable: to teach us “that men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1).

Jesus has a specific subject of prayer in mind: that God would avenge us, i.e. give us justice or vindicate us (cf. Luke 18:7-8). Though the lesson and the principle apply to all proper prayer, it is especially focused upon this one. Things are not yet as they ought to be, especially in the mistreating and misjudging of believers. 

The Lord tells us here that we should be praying for ourselves and other believers to be delivered from those who act and speak against them—indeed from those whose manner is the fruit of the devil, that great murderer and accuser.

Jesus also has a specific manner of prayer in mind: intense (“crying out”), frequent/consistent (“day and night”), and persistent (“though He bears long with them”), Luke 18:7. By these, He shows us what he means by “always ought to pray and not lose heart.” How very far have many of us to come—prayerless people in a prayerless age.

There is precious little addressing God, let alone crying out to Him. Hardly an individual or household can be found who have set times of prayer both morning and evening, and few are the churches whose public worship feature any crying out whatsoever, or have even one additional set time of prayer in each week. We are fools if we believe that what happens in few set times somehow intensely happens in the between-times; and, we cannot honestly begin to talk about being either frequent or persistent in that which we hardly ever even begin to do. 

God have mercy upon us! To many who claim to be Christians, the God Who has elected us, hears us, and responds to us is nearly as theoretical as the unjust judge from our Lord’s parable. Yet, this is exactly what Jesus is asking about and looking for in Luke 18:8b. He’s defining “finding faith” here as finding elect people who pray like this. If Jesus were to come to your bedroom, to your household, to your church, would He find what He’s looking for?

Finally, Jesus gives us a specific ground upon which to hope that we are heard. God has elected us (Luke 18:7). He Who has been determined to do us good from outside of time will answer our prayers in as little of that time as will possibly honor Him and benefit us. He has chosen you. He will hear you. He will avenge you. And speedily, at that.

If “the Son of Man” came to you/your family/your church, would He find prayer and not losing heart?

Suggested Songs: ARP55C “But As for Me, I’ll Call on God” or TPH522 “Behold the Throne of Grace!”

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

You Are the Man, Hearer!: the Aggravated Heinousness of Christians' Sins (Family Worship Lesson in 2Samuel 12:1–14)

What if the Scripture is using with us the tactic that Nathan is using with David? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. 2Samuel 12:1–14 prepares us for the first of the two serial readings in the public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these fourteen verses of Sacred Scripture, we find that like David, we are quicker to condemn than to confess. And we find that the reasoning by which Yahweh declares the heinousness of David's sins would be valid reasoning for the aggravated/heightened heinousness of our sins as Christian believers.

2021.04.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 12:1–15a

Read 2 Samuel 12:1–15a

Questions from the Scripture text: Who sent whom to whom (2 Samuel 12:1)? What did Nathan start telling David about? What did the rich man have (2 Samuel 12:2)? What did the poor man have (2 Samuel 12:3)? How does Nathan describe the specialness of the little ewe lamb? Who came to the rich man (2 Samuel 12:4)? How did David feel toward the rich man (2 Samuel 12:5)? What did he say should be done? How did he say it? What else did he say should happen (2 Samuel 12:6)? What does Nathan answer to this (2 Samuel 12:7)? With what does the word from Yahweh begin? What does Yahweh recount in 2 Samuel 12:7-8? What question follows in 2 Samuel 12:9 (cf. Psalm 51:4)? What is the penalty for what (2 Samuel 12:10)? What will Yahweh do to David (2 Samuel 12:11)? Who will see this (2 Samuel 12:12)? What does David say (2 Samuel 12:13)? How does Nathan answer him? Who will not die? Who will die (2 Samuel 12:14)? What does Nathan do in 2 Samuel 12:15?

Nathan’s approach works, because we are much readier to condemn sin in others than we are in ourselves. Bearing that in mind, we ought to prepare our hearts to find that the rest of the passage really does condemn us much more than we might at first think.

The logic of the Lord’s accusation against David is that He has done so much for David (2 Samuel 12:7-8) that it makes it all the worse for David to have despised the commandment of the Lord (2 Samuel 12:9), and that committing such sin has “given great occasion to the enemies of Yahweh to blaspheme” (2 Samuel 12:14).

So, there is a sense in which the condemnation declared here is one that is only and especially for believers and their sins. We tend to be scandalized by how flashy the sin is. Murder! Adultery! And certainly there is a great heinousness in those particular actions. 

But let us not miss that “despising the commandments of the One who has done so much for us” and “giving occasion for the blaspheming of Him Who has identified Himself with us” are two complicating/aggravating factors that apply to every sin of a Christian believer. It is as if the Scripture comes to us in this passage, as we are ready to condemn David, and points the finger out at the Christian reader, saying “You are the man!”

Indeed, even we who are forgiven ought to fear greatly to sin. Although it is a great mercy and relief for us to hear in Christ’s cross, “Yahweh has put away your sin; you shall not die,” we must face the sobering reality that there are very real and very intense consequences even for forgiven sin.

In this case, the entire nation would suffer as adversity arose against the house of the king from within it (2 Samuel 12:11a). And the wives/concubines would suffer dreadfully in the fulfillment of 2 Samuel 12:11b–2 Samuel 12:12 (cf. 2 Samuel 16:21-22). And the unborn child himself would die (2 Samuel 12:14), missing the opportunity to serve the Lord in this world/life. 

So, both out of love for the Lord and for those who may be harmed by the consequences, even we who are forgiven—and especially we who are forgiven—ought greatly to fear and to hate sinning!

What makes your sins to be like David’s sins? What has the Lord done for you? What can happen if you sin?

Suggested songs: ARP51A “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH180 “Kind and Merciful God, We Have Sinned”

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

2021.04.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 3:7–11

Read Philippians 3:7–11

Questions from the Scripture text: What has the apostle counted as loss (Philippians 3:7)? For Whom? What else does He count as loss (Philippians 3:8)? For what? Who is Christ Jesus to Him? What has the apostle suffered for his Lord? As what does he count them? In order to gain what (Whom)? What else does the apostle want to do with Christ (Philippians 3:9a)? Of what does the apostle have none of his own? What is the only righteousness that he can have? From Whom is this righteousness? By what is this righteousness? What three things does the apostle come to know/have through the knowledge of Christ (Philippians 3:10)? Of what is the knowledge of Christ the only means to the attaining (Philippians 3:11)? 

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Philippians 3:7–11, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Thy Works, Not Mine, O Christ

Christ is the prince of glory! We sinners have nothing of our own that is worthy or praiseworthy, and now God has given Himself to us in His Son of infinite worthiness and praiseworthiness. 

Christ is all of our righteousness. By what other righteousness could we be right with God? “And count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.” Christ is all of the righteousness that we have before God!

Christ is all of our treasure. What other treasure could we desire? “I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” Christ is all of our treasure!

Christ is all of our power. By what other power could we defeat death? How I should be willing to suffer, if it is part of having fellowship with Him in His sufferings! How I should be willing to die, if it is part of being conformed to His death! To know Him is also to know the power of His resurrection—Christ’s resurrection is the only means by which any of us may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Christ is all of our power!

O, may God grant to us to renounce our own righteousness, to renounce any treasure apart from Christ, and to renounce all other power. Christ is all our righteousness; Christ is all our treasure; Christ is all our power! 

What are we tempted to have make us feel more right with God? What are we tempted to treasure for its own sake? What are we tempted to think will make us strong Christians? 

Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH459 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

Monday, April 26, 2021

2021.04.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 1:1–7

Read Exodus 1:1–7

Questions from the Scripture text: Whose names are listed in the following verses (Exodus 1:1)? With whom did they come? What eleven sons are named in Exodus 1:2-4? Of whom were they descendants (Exodus 1:5)? How many of them were there? Who was where already? Who died in Exodus 1:6? Who else? But what four things does Exodus 1:7 say that the children of Israel did? What happened to the land?

Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth. This was the original command given to the one creature made in God’s image (cf. Genesis 1:28). 

But Adam sinned and died, and so did all mankind in him. Ever since then, man has been dying.

But God, Who had declared that there would be a seed of the woman who would crush the serpent’s head, later chose Abraham that in him and his seed, all the families of the earth would be blessed. God renewed this promise with Abraham’s son Isaac, and with his son Jacob. 

Jacob became an especial picture to us of God’s salvation. Literally, from the womb, he was a heel-grabber, a swindler who lived by his wits. But God put him repeatedly into distress that brought him to an end of himself, forcing Jacob to wrestle with the God Who would wrestle on Jacob’s—now Israel’s—behalf. 

Finally, the family through whom God is determined to bring the Redeemer comes to be called “the children of Israel,” as they make their move to Egypt. But this family has the same problem as those whom God will save through them: sin and death. Will sin and death stop His plan of salvation? No. “The children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them.”

Sometimes, it is not merely the reality of death that discourages us; the loss of those whom the Lord has greatly used can be especially discouraging. Exodus 1:6 places Exodus 1:7 in the context of having lost a great generation. After the last 70 years in Egypt, the last 53 of them without Jacob, the loss of Joseph would be keenly felt. And it’s not just Joseph. “All his brothers.” “All that generation.”

So much has been lost. Now what will come of the children of Israel, and of the promise of a Redeemer through them? Answer: “But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them.” 

God created image-bearers to be fruitful and fill His creation. God is redeeming image-bearers to be fruitful and fill His creation—and His coming redeemed creation. 

That which would become a problem for the subsequent Pharaoh is for us a reminder that God’s plan is still in full effect. Sin and death could not stop it. The loss of Joseph and the patriarchs could not stop it. We too need this lesson in our own lives, our own families, our own church(es), our own nation.

We mustn’t depend upon our ability to resist death or sin. Yes, we ought to be good stewards, and to reflect Christ’s redemptive glory as much as we may in this life. But we will struggle against sin all this life, and eventually we will die. Our hope is in God, and our Redeemer, the God-Man Who has defeated sin and death.

We mustn’t depend upon those great men that God has used in His church and in our lives. Yes, we ought to recognize and honor them, both in our interactions and also before God in gratitude to Him. Seeing how God has been pleased to use such individuals, it is even good for us to seek to be much used of Him, and to seek from Him that our children would be much used of Him. 

But, let our dependence be upon Him Himself, so that when a much-used man is taken from us, or when there does not appear to be one of such quality among us, we will yet have our great and gracious God, and our hope will rest securely upon Him!

What setbacks discourage you lately? Whose loss have you felt keenly? In Whom do you Hope?

Suggested songs: ARP146 “Praise the LORD” or TPH146 “Praise the LORD! My Soul, O Praise Him!”

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Mirrors and Motives for Being God's Contented Children (2021.04.25 Evening Sermon in Philippians 2:14–25)

Grumbling and complaining is crooked and perverse. Children of God will be conforming to the image of their contented Redeemer, bringing them into direct contrast with the world.

The God Whose Grace Overcomes Sin and Death (2021.04.25 Morning Sermon in Exodus 1:1–7)

We will die, and those whom the Lord has much used in our lives will die. But the Lord and His plan for salvation will continue and succeed.

WCF 14.2.9a Faith Accepts, Receives, and Rests upon Christ (2021.04.25 Sabbath School Lesson)

But the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

2021.04.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 1:1–7

Read Exodus 1:1–7

Questions from the Scripture text: Whose names are listed in the following verses (Exodus 1:1)? With whom did they come? What eleven sons are named in Exodus 1:2-4? Of whom were they descendants (Exodus 1:5)? How many of them were there? Who was where already? Who died in Exodus 1:6? Who else? But what four things does Exodus 1:7 say that the children of Israel did? What happened to the land? 

Genesis had begun in Eden and ended in Egypt. Now Exodus is beginning in Egypt and ending at the tabernacle, God's designed place for making His presence to dwell among His people. As Moses will say in his Psalm, “Yahweh, You have been our dwelling place, in all our generations” (cf.  Psalm 90:1). 

Right now, though, they are in Egypt. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have passed away. And now the generation of Jacob’s children have died as well (Exodus 1:6). It had been a pretty remarkable advance, from the single thread by which the promise hung from one generation to the next, now to these twelve households (Exodus 1:1)—seventy persons plus the household of Joseph (Exodus 1:2-5). 

But now they are in Egypt, and what will happen there? Abram had been told that his seed would be afflicted foreigners for four hundred years (cf. Genesis 15:13), but the Lord has been showing throughout His dealings with man to this point that He delights to bless over-against man’s expectations and possibilities. It is His promise and His pleasure that decides what will happen, not our expectations and abilities.

And so the book of Exodus begins with a perfect example of this. Abraham, gone. Isaac, gone. Jacob, gone. The patriarchs of the twelve tribes, gone. The children of Israel, in Egypt. Now what?

“The children of Israel were fruitful.”

“The children of Israel were fruitful and increased.”

“The children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly.”

“The children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied.”

“The children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew mighty.

“The children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty.

“The children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them.”

The language is so piled up on top of itself that without slowing down in some way to dwell upon it,  we might miss the impact that it is designed to have upon us. 

Generations come and go, but our God is forever, His promises are sure, and His power does not depend upon any man. Never fret nor fear, dear Christian. Your almighty God is keeping His promises.

What circumstances in your heart, your household, your nation, or the church discourage you? To what encouragement can you look regardless of those circumstances? How will you keep yourself looking there?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH243 “How Firm a Foundation”

Friday, April 23, 2021

2021.04.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 2:14–15

Read Philippians 2:14–15

Questions from the Scripture text: How many things are we to do (Philippians 2:14)? Without what two things? What two things will we be, if we do everything this way (Philippians 2:15)? Who will we be? Without what? In the midst of what kind of generation? What will we do amongst them?

When God has begun a good work in you (Philippians 1:6) and is still doing a good work in you (Philippians 2:13), there’s no room for complaining against God and questioning what He’s doing (Philippians 2:14). You may have read Exodus through Deuteronomy and thought, “how can they possibly grumble against God? Look at what He did for them and is doing for them!” 

And now the apostle comes along, holds up the mirror and shows us how great a work the Lord has done for us and is doing in us—something that far outpaces the Exodus. And yet how much we complain and murmur against God! Let us exterminate grumbling from our vocabulary and expunge murmuring from our hearts.

This is necessary both because of to Whom we belong and among whom we live. Will you be a child of God or of your generation? We have to choose. We cannot have one foot in each camp. Our Father is a Father of light in Whom there is no darkness at all. Our generation is a world of darkness, from which there is no light at all. 

A Christian can’t aim to be a slightly better worldling, as if our character can be a slightly less concentrated shade of darkness. Rather, the Christian must aim at being what God has already declared him to be: a god-ling, a child of God. He aims at blamelessness, innocence, faultlessness. If the standard you’re aiming at is possible, then it’s the wrong standard altogether. Since God is the One doing the aiming and the working (Philippians 2:13), He establishes the standard (Philippians 2:15). God is doing the work! Therefore, He defines what that work is. And it should stand apart from the world like literal day and night.

When are you most tempted to grumble or complain? What are some ways that you stick out from the world?

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH461 “Blessed Are the Sons of God”

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Symptoms of a Heart that the LORD Is Preparing for His Holy Hill (2021.04.21 Prayer Meeting Lesson in Psalm 15)

The most important question facing each one of us is whether we will end up in Hell or the Hill of Yahweh's holiness. In those whom the Lord is bringing to the latter, He Who is their righteousness is doing a renovation work in their hearts. This Psalm gives eight symptoms by which we may recognize that work of heart-renovation.

2021.04.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 17:20–37

Read Luke 17:20–37

Questions from the Scripture text: Who asked Jesus what in Luke 17:20? What does Jesus say, instead of answering the “when” question? What won’t they say (Luke 17:21)? Why—what is the answer to the where question? To whom does He speak in Luke 17:22? What did He say they would desire to see? What would people say to them then (Luke 17:23)? What does Jesus say to do when they say this? What will the Son of Man be like in His day (Luke 17:24)? What must He do first (Luke 17:25)? By whom must He be rejected? Whose days will it be like in the day of the Son of Man (Luke 17:26)? What were they doing in both days (Luke 17:27)? Until what happened? Who else’s days were like that (Luke 17:28)? What suddenly happened to them (Luke 17:29)? What did these two events have in common? What is Jesus saying to those who are preoccupied with the “when” question about His return? What day does He say will be like these two days (Luke 17:30)? What kinds of things won’t be important in that day (Luke 17:31)? Whom should we remember (Luke 17:32)? Who will lose his life (Luke 17:33a)? Who will preserve his life (verse 33b)? What can’t we tell from where two people are, and what they are doing (Luke 17:34-36)? What do the disciples want to know about His return in Luke 17:37? How does Jesus explain that the location will be obvious when it actually happens?

The Pharisees ask when the kingdom of God would come (Luke 17:20). But they don’t have a clue what they’re asking. Jesus’s answer isn’t just that they wouldn’t know the kingdom of God if it hit them, but that it already has hit them, and they don’t know it: “the kingdom of God [i.e., the King Himself] is in the midst of them” (Luke 17:21). The kingdom was there, but the Pharisees couldn’t see it, because they weren’t prepared for it.

Then, there’ll be a day when the kingdom won’t be there. His disciples will wish that He was around (Luke 17:22), so much so that they might be easily suckered by people who use His return to manipulate them (Luke 17:23). But, they shouldn’t let themselves be taken in, because hiding His return will be like trying to hide lightning (Luke 17:24). So, know that just as Christ Himself had to suffer (Luke 17:25), His servants also must be willing to do so in the meantime (Luke 17:22). So, the disciples should be prepared for the days when they are all the kingdom that there is on earth.

As for the days when He does actually return, those are going to sneak up on those who live for this life. All but eight were destroyed in the days of Noah (Luke 17:26-27). All but four were destroyed in the days of Lot (Luke 17:28-30). And a quarter of them were destroyed even though among the “church” (Luke 17:32). So, don’t live for this life, because that’s how to be destroyed (Luke 17:33Luke 17:31). So, all succeeding generations should live like life in this world is ending momentarily.

After all, you might be in the same family (Luke 17:32) or even doing the same activities (Luke 17:34-36) and one will escape but the other be dead meat (Luke 17:37). 

What’s the theme that holds these sections of teaching together: it is far more important to be prepared by knowing Christ, belonging to Christ, and living for Christ than it is to know when the last day will be. The great day will only be “great” for you if you are Christ’s.

The main question must be not, “when is Christ returning?” but rather “is Christ everything to me?”

What are some ways that you can tell that Christ is everything to someone? How do these appear in your life?

Suggested Songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH72A “O God, Your Judgments Give the King”

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

2021.04.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 11

Read 2 Samuel 11

Questions from the Scripture text: What time of the year was it (2 Samuel 11:1)? What were kings supposed to do? What did David do? Whom did he send instead? Where did David remain? From what did David arise at what time in 2 Samuel 11:2? What did he see? What did he do about this (2 Samuel 11:3)? What relevant data did he discover? How did he respond to this data (2 Samuel 11:4)? What did he do with her? What was the result of this sin (2 Samuel 11:5)? Whom did she tell? To whom does David respond, and how (2 Samuel 11:6)? Who arrives in 2 Samuel 11:7? What does David ask him about? What does David tell Uriah to do in 2 Samuel 11:8 (cf. 2 Samuel 11:2, same verb as bathing)? What follows Uriah when he goes? But when it comes time to sleep, where does Uriah go (2 Samuel 11:9)? What does David ask in 2 Samuel 11:10? What is the first thing Uriah mentions in 2 Samuel 11:11? What does he point out about whom? So what three things does Uriah refuse to do? What kind of statement does he make at the end of verse 11? What does David want Uriah to do in 2 Samuel 11:12? What does David do to Uriah in 2 Samuel 11:13? But what doesn’t Uriah do? What does David send by whose hand in 2 Samuel 11:14? What did the letter say to do (2 Samuel 11:15)? What does Joab do, in response to the letter (2 Samuel 11:16)? What else had to happen to whom else for this to be done (2 Samuel 11:17)? What does Joab do when it is completed (2 Samuel 11:18)? What does he expect David to think of the strategy (2 Samuel 11:19-21)? How does Joab counsel to respond if David is angry (verse 21)? When does the messenger decide to include this vital information (2 Samuel 11:22-24)? How does David respond to the message that is delivered this way (2 Samuel 11:25)? How does Bathsheba respond to this news (2 Samuel 11:26)? What does this verse call her (cf. Matthew 1:6)? What does David do when she is done mourning (2 Samuel 11:27)? Who is finally mentioned at the end of this verse? What does the verse say about Him?

In the last three chapters, we have seen David as a prototype of Christ, but alas how greatly God’s people need the real deal!

It was the time that kings go out to battle, and Israel’s king was at home (2 Samuel 11:1). Getting out of bed in the late afternoon in fact (2 Samuel 11:2). But he’d be back in bed a few verses and a minute later with another man’s wife (2 Samuel 11:4), having let eyes and mind wander (2 Samuel 11:2-3). 

This is the man after God’s heart? We’ll get to the difference that grace makes in chapter 12, but for now we see how it’s not good enough to have David as your king. He can’t even be his own righteousness. He (and we) must have Christ’s blood atone for our so-called “righteousness.” And he and we must have Christ as our forever-king.

The adultery is what tends to stand out to us, but it’s over very abruptly. The bulk of the chapter is spent on David trying to use Uriah to wipe out the evidence of his sin (2 Samuel 11:6-13) and then using Uriah to wipe out Uriah (2 Samuel 11:14-15). 

Oh what great (and even greatly wicked) effort we may put into trying to appear righteous!

But it doesn’t work and can’t work. The chapter doesn’t mention Yahweh until the very last word (in the Hebrew, as well as our English translation), which subtly drives home the point. David (and we) may do our level best to hide Him out of our sight when we are sinning, but we can never succeed in hiding our sin from His holy sight.

Even the best of us believers (and the Scripture has worked hard to highlight David as among the best of believers) can fall into the worst of sin. And our slouch into it can begin even by something as seemingly innocuous as skipping work and taking lazy naps. So, let us rejoice that Christ Himself alone is our righteousness. And, let us keep clinging to Him as those who know that we could fall at any moment. And, let us put confidence in no prince but in Christ our King.

By what activities has Christ granted to you to keep clinging to Him? In what leaders do you need to guard against placing your trust?

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

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Christ Himself the Only Foundation of Peace with God and Growth in Grace (2021.04.20 Family Worship in Ephesians 2:13–22)

What great error lay behind the ethnic tension in the Ephesian church? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Ephesians 2:13–22 prepares us for the call to worship, prayer of adoration, and first song in the public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these ten verses of Sacred Scripture, we learn that our peace and unity with one another is a necessary result of having Christ Himself as the only ground of peace with God and Christ Himself as the only foundation of the growth of any Christian and of the church as a nation/family/building/body.

2021.04.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 2:13–22

Read Ephesians 2:13–22

Questions from the Scripture text: What are they now in Ephesians 2:13 (as opposed to when they were in the flesh in Ephesians 2:11)? What has happened to them, in contrast to their being far off? By what had they been brought near? What is the peace between the Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 2:14)? What has Jesus done to them? What has He broken down? What did He do to the enmity (Ephesians 2:15)? How? What had sealed this enmity? What has Christ done to it? What has He created in Himself? To Whom has He reconciled them (Ephesians 2:16)? How? What did this put to death? What did He come and preach (Ephesians 2:17)? To whom? What do we both have (Ephesians 2:18)? Through Whom? By Whom? To Whom? What are they no longer (Ephesians 2:19)? What are they now with the saints? Of what are they now members? Upon what were they built (Ephesians 2:20)? Who is the chief cornerstone? What role does He have in the building (Ephesians 2:21)? Into what does the building grow, in Him? Who else is being built together in this building (Ephesians 2:22)? For what? For Whom? In Whom?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Ephesians 2:13–22, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less

We have been brought near to God by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:13)! His blood has atoned for us so that we can come near. His righteousness has merited the blessedness in which we do come near. So our peace is more than just a position or status, but a Person (Ephesians 2:14) in Whom we have it. 

Many of the ordinances of the Mosaic law (Ephesians 2:15) existed to show the separation between Israel and the nations, which was necessary because God was near Israel in a way that He was not to other nations (cf. Deuteronomy 4:7, etc.). But it turned out that what the tabernacle, temple, and sacrifices couldn’t do, Jesus Himself has done in His flesh (Ephesians 2:15-16), which He makes a reality in our lives by His Spirit (Ephesians 2:18). 

What could man ever add, whether by his efforts or his feelings, to the reality that we have in Jesus Christ Himself? The Father has brought us to Himself in the Son by the powerful working of His Spirit. To what the Triune God plans, accomplishes, and applies, man the creature can never add.

Christ is the Solid Rock, the sure foundation, the Chief Cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). Any other ground—whether for any of us personally, or for the church corporately (Ephesians 2:21)—is sinking sand. When other things threaten to stir up discord in the church, we must have recourse back to Christ Himself, Who has killed that enmity (Ephesians 2:16). When circumstances seem to say that God has turned against us, we must have recourse back to Christ Himself, Who has killed that enmity (verse 16). How marvelous to know one another as fellow members of God’s family, and to know ourselves as God’s children (Ephesians 2:19)—which we can know only in Christ Himself!

How do people think and act, when Christ is the foundation of their getting along? Where should our minds and hearts go, when we are afraid that things have gone wrong between us and the Lord?

Suggested songs: ARP51B “From My Sins, O Hide Thy Face” or TPH459 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

Monday, April 19, 2021

Pursuing Holiness out of Love for Christ's Glory (2021.04.18 Evening Sermon in Philippians 2:12–13)

Love for Christ's glory compels us to pursue holiness from the fear of God (the right fear) with great awe expressed in trembling (great fear) because this pursuit is done in conjunction with and dependence upon God Himself (giving us great confidence).

Death-Defying Hope in Our Relentlessly Faithful God (2021.04.18 Morning Sermon in Genesis 50:22–26)

Those who are dying in the hope of God and His promises desire others to live by the hope of God and His promises.

Saving Faith Doesn't Just Agree with but Embraces the Word of God (2021.04.18 Sabbath School Lesson)

Saving faith embraces the promises of God for this life, and that which is to come.

2021.04.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 50:22–26

Read Genesis 50:22–26

Questions from the Scripture text: Where did Joseph dwell (Genesis 50:22)? With whom? To what age did he live? Whom did he see (Genesis 50:23)? To how many generations? Who were brought up on Joseph’s knees? To whom does Joseph speak in Genesis 50:24? What does he say is happening to him? Whom does he say will visit them? Out of where will God bring them? Into what land will He bring them? What does Joseph “take” from them in Genesis 50:25? What are they called in this verse? What does He say will surely happen? What does Joseph put them under oath to do? What does Joseph do in Genesis 50:26? At what age? What do they do to him? Into what do they put him? Where?

Joseph’s story isn’t over. His life ended well. It seems to have been a blessed final 53 years or so of his life (Genesis 50:23). But that’s not why we are saying that his life ended well. Actually, Joseph’s story hasn’t ended. “I am dying,” he says (Genesis 50:24), but that isn’t the end. He wants his bones carried back to the promised land. Or, to use the language of the text, the “sworn” land. He intends to resume use of them at some point, and would like to do so from there. If your life is going to be lived well, it must be lived by faith in Him who is destroying sin and death. If your life is going to be lived well, it must be lived with a confident hope in the coming resurrection.

Israel’s story wasn’t over. It can feel like the story is over after a long, “golden” age. Or when a great figure dies. Moments like the death of Joseph, the death of Moses, or the death of Uzziah can feel like the foundations are coming out from under God’s people. So when Moses dies, there is a great emphasis on the Lord still being with Joshua and Israel. And when Uzziah dies, the Lord gives Isaiah a vision of Himself still seated upon the throne. 

And here when Joseph is dying, he emphasizes that God will visit them, repeating it in back to back verses. In both cases, the verb is emphasized by its doubling as well: “visiting, God will visit you.” Joseph wants them to do something with his bones; he’s going to put them under oath to do it. But the bones are not the emphasis of his dying speech. Joseph is not done with his bones, but his emphasis is upon the God Who is not done with His people.

Death’s story will soon be over. Sarcophaguses (Egyptian coffins) weren’t part of the original design. When God said “very good” there was no sin or death. But sin entered through Adam and death through sin. So the book started in paradise in Eden, and it ends “in a coffin in Egypt.” But sin’s days are numbered. God had said, “dying you shall die.” That has certainly proven true. But it is not just God’s threats that are true. All of His words are perfectly reliable. So yes, He will bring them out of the land. And yes, they will be afflicted until then (cf. Genesis 15:13). 

But these words will also be true: “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3) and “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15). The last enemy to be destroyed will be death (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:26). Genesis ends “in a coffin in Egypt,” but Genesis is not the end. It is just the beginning.

So, as Joseph dies, he dies clinging relentlessly to the God Who relentlessly keeps His promises. And, his last act of loving care for his family is to set that God before them, so that they may live the way Joseph is dying: clinging relentlessly to the God Who relentlessly keeps His promises.

What promises has God made for this life, that you should be living by? What promises has He made for eternity?

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH243 “How Firm a Foundation”

Saturday, April 17, 2021

2021.04.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 50:22–26

Read Genesis 50:22–26

Questions from the Scripture text: Where did Joseph dwell (Genesis 50:22)? With whom? To what age did he live? Whom did he see (Genesis 50:23)? To how many generations? Who were brought up on Joseph’s knees? To whom does Joseph speak in Genesis 50:24? What does he say is happening to him? Whom does he say will visit them? Out of where will God bring them? Into what land will He bring them? What does Joseph “take” from them in Genesis 50:25? What are they called in this verse? What does He say will surely happen? What does Joseph put them under oath to do? What does Joseph do in Genesis 50:26? At what age? What do they do to him? Into what do they put him? Where?

Joseph is 56 or 57 years old when Jacob dies. So Genesis 50:21 describes what he did not only for his own household, but for his father’s household for more than half a century. And Genesis 50:22 summarizes it under the little phrase, “So Joseph dwelt in Egypt.” He was the key for all of them. Egypt was his stomping ground and he “provided for them and their little ones” (cf. verse 21). 

Genesis 50:23 heightens the sweetness and deepens the joy, as we see this last half-century of Joseph’s life surrounded by grand-children and great grandchildren, brought to Joseph’s knees at birth and growing up learning the faith from him. 

Now all these generations and all the extended family are gathered to Joseph again in Genesis 50:24. They quickly discover that this is the last time. “I am dying.” But his theme is the same as it has been. God is in the place of God (cf. Genesis 50:19). God is always intending you good and doing you good (Genesis 50:20). And now “God will surely visit you” (Genesis 50:24). 

Joseph’s message to his family is a God-obsessed message. He is the same God of relentless goodness, and Egypt is not His plan for you. He swore a promise to Abraham. He repeated that promise, swearing it to Isaac. He repeated that promise, swearing it to Jacob. God has sworn, and now Joseph wants them to swear an oath too (Genesis 50:25a). Joseph ties those two together by the repetition in verse 25 of that phrase, “God will surely visit you.”

What God will do is not in doubt. Joseph wants them to be ready to respond when God does so. They need to keep track of his bones, so that they can carry them up to Egypt. God will keep His promises, and they will return to Canaan. And God will keep the further promise of bringing Christ from the tribe of Judah. And God will keep the further promise of the resurrection.

So the book of Genesis ends in a way that reminds us that the story isn’t finished yet. “In a coffin in Egypt.” Sin has entered the world and death through sin. Joseph is in a coffin. God would bring His people up from Egypt. Joseph’s coffin is in Egypt. But the last thing he wants them to know is that God will keep the promise to bring them back to Canaan. And when God does so, they need to bring his bones, because God will also keep the promise of the resurrection. Jesus will defeat death by atoning for the sin whose wages was death. So don’t forget the bones!

As God is relentlessly keeping His promises, so let us relentlessly believe Him for those promises. Let us hear Joseph’s God-obsessed message of the certainty of God’s faithfulness to God’s promises. Let us live and die as those who are sure that God will do it. And let us make sure that our testimony to others is also a God-obsessed message of God’s faithfulness to God’s promises.

How does God’s sure faithfulness to bless His means instruct your time/activity choices day by day? What has God promised to do in the lives of Christians—how does God’s sure faithfulness to keep those promises shape your priorities and goals for your life? What has God promised to do in/after the deaths of Christians —how does God’s sure faithfulness to keep those promises shape your plans/requests about your death?

Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH243 “How Firm a Foundation”


Friday, April 16, 2021

Working Out Salvation with Right Fear, Great Fear, and Great Confidence (2021.04.16 Family Worship in Philippians 2:12–13)

How should we respond to Jesus’s Lordship being displayed in His salvation? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Philippians 2:12–13 prepares us for the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these two verses of Sacred Scripture, we learn to pursue holiness with the right fear (for God’s eyes, not men), and with great fear (trembling at the greatness of what is being done as we are sanctified), and with great confidence (knowing that the God for Whose glory we pursue holiness is the God by Whose grace we pursue holiness).

2021.04.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 2:12–13

Read Philippians 2:12–13

Questions from the Scripture text: How does the apostle connect Philippians 2:12 to Philippians 2:11? 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?

How should our lives respond to the fact “that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the father”?  We know what knees should do: bow. We know what tongues should do: confess. What should “beloved” (Philippians 2:12) believers do? Work out our salvation. “Therefore” at the beginning of verse 12 connects back to the exaltation of the risen Christ. “Therefore … work out your own salvation.”

Salvation, of course, is much bigger than mere justification, which is the word that means to come into a right standing before the justice of God. This happens the moment that we believe. But Christ’s salvation includes perfect holiness and blessedness. “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11, emphasis added). 

In justification, our part is literally to not work, but trust Him who justifies the ungodly (cf. Romans 4:5). But the rest of our salvation must be worked out—or rather worked “in” as more literally translated. Our little text tells us several things about this working that the Spirit here commands.

Work out your salvation with the right fear. From our infancy we have learned to obey out of fear. Fear of displeasing a parent. Fear of consequences. Fear of punishment. Fear of being thought less-of by others. The apostle knows that even after we are converted, we are tempted to keep operating this way. He knows that there are members of the Philippian church (probably all of them!) who are on their best behavior when the apostle is around.

So, he tells them to do the reverse. When he says “much more in my absence,” he is not saying that they should be lax about obedience when he is present. But since he knows that it requires more effort when “only” God is looking, the apostle counsels his beloved ones to focus all the more effort in his absence.

When others aren’t there to see us, we should work all the harder at what pleases God, because it is then that it is for His eyes alone that we are working.

Work out your salvation with great fear. One of the ways that we will know that it is fear of God that drives us is when this fear makes us to tremble. Work out your own salvation with fear “and trembling.” 

We rather easily lie to ourselves about what is going on in our hearts. It is an easy thing to play mind-games with myself, to think that I am doing something unto God and conjure up some feelings as if that were the case. The apostle knew that, and so the Spirit carries him along to say not just “with fear” but also “with trembling.” If it is the true and living God Whom we are fearing, we will tremble. Yes, we can imitate trembling too. But of this we can be sure: if there is no trembling, then it is not God Whom we are fearing. 

Work our your salvation with great confidence. Playacting at Christianity to be seen by others harms us in more ways than just by feeding spiritual self-deception. Spiritual self-deception is a great evil indeed; but its twin, spiritual self-dependence, is just as toxic and poisonous and deadly to the soul. 

But the self-deception leads to the self-dependence because it hides from our view the true and living God Who is our only power for growth in grace, our only hope for growth in grace. “Don’t live out your walk for the eye of man!” says the apostle. Not only because you will fail to pursue true godliness, heart godliness, persistent godliness.

But also because if you are not consciously considering the eye of God, you will take your own eyes off of Him “Who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” See how entirely your walk with Him must come from Him? It is not even that we are willing but unable to do. Without Him, we are unable even to desire and intend that which is truly good. 

Apart from God, sanctification is stillborn—dead even in the heart, lacking the opportunity to be born in our words or our deeds. God provides even the willing to do! So let us look to Him, that His smile upon our thoughts and deeds would be infinitely more to us than any approval of any mere man—knowing that He first smiles to work in us, and then smiles upon that work!

Whose earthly approval means the most to you? When do you need to “much more” work out your own salvation? In order to respond properly to the fact that it is God Who must work in you for all of your growth in grace, what other things must you “do” as you grow?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH393 “Spirit of God, Dwell Thou within My Heart”

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Praying to the God Who Sees: Pleading Realities that the Wicked Suppress (2021.04.14 Prayer Meeting Lesson)

The state of things, v1.
The discovery of this state, vv2–3
The delusion of this state, v4
The danger of this state, vv5–6
The desire of the righteous, v7

2021.04.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 17:11–19

Read Luke 17:11–19

Questions from the Scripture text: Where was Jesus going (Luke 17:11)? Through where did He pass? What does He enter in Luke 17:12? Who meet him there? Where did they stand? What did they lift up (Luke 17:13)? What did they call Jesus? What did they ask Him to do? What does Jesus tell them to do when He sees them (Luke 17:14)? What happened as they went? What did one of them see (Luke 17:15)? Where did he go? What did he do with a loud voice? Upon what did he fall (Luke 17:16)? Where? What did he do there? What was his ethnicity? What three questions does Jesus ask in Luke 17:17-18? What does He say this one has done (verse 18)? What does He call him? What does Jesus tell the Samaritan to do (Luke 17:19a)? What does He say has saved (literally) him (verse 19b)?

The evangelist gives us a surprise about the one grateful leper at the end of Luke 17:15. “And he was a Samaritan.” Many commentators rightly note that this fits with Luke’s theme of the kingdom gathering in “the least of these.” Of the four gospels, it is especially through Luke that the Holy Spirit highlights women, foreigners, and other “unacceptables” coming into the kingdom. 

In fact the phrase at the end of Luke 17:19 “your faith has saved you” (literally) appears in Luke here, Luke 7:50 (a woman who was a “sinner”), Luke 8:48 (a woman unclean for 12 years from a blood flow), and Luke 18:42 (a blind beggar that everyone had tried to shut up). All “unacceptables.”

It seems that Luke is hinting at that by holding back the ethnic info at first. Why include that he’s a Samaritan? It doesn’t matter that much if you’re a leper. It didn’t matter to the other nine. Pharisees and priests can bother to steer clear of Samaritans. But if you’re all lepers, what’s the use?

Here is a key to squashing our wicked despising of people from other classes, nations, and languages. Seeing our common sinfulness and misery in Adam reduces those differences to the status of inconsequential.

Of course, while their temporary and superficial acceptance of one another can put us to shame, it did them no ultimate good. Even being cured of their leprosy did not do them lasting good. Nine of them didn’t return to Jesus (Luke 17:15a). Nine of them failed to give glory to God (verse 15b, Luke 17:18b). 

If failing to glorify Him for what you see in the creation is so damning in Romans 1:21, what does it say when you fail to repent and give glory to God even after receiving temporary benefits from encounters with Jesus? The unconverted church member who has had “moments with Jesus,” and good sermons, and fellowship with the saints is under a greater condemnation than the sexually abominable worldlings of the second half of Romans 1.

So, while we are rightly rebuked that leper Jews and leper Samaritans were able to find some common ground, when so many Christians don’t… let us not make the mistake of thinking that when the wicked and miserable join hands that there is something redemptive occurring. God be praised for every restraint of every sin! But only one of these lepers was saved. 

Being a leper doesn’t save you. Enjoying Jesus’s benefits doesn’t save you. Overcoming ethnic/class division doesn’t save you. Only faith saves you. Luke 17:19 applied to only one of these lepers.

And this is why we need to stick with the literal translation of the phrase, “Your faith has saved you.” All ten were made well. Only one returned. Only one glorified God with a loud voice. Only one fell at Jesus’s feet—finally able to come near. Only one gave Jesus thanks. This is what faith-saved people do. I wonder if those things are true of you. Has your faith saved you?

Have you turned your life away from everything else to turn it totally to Jesus? How intensely do you glorify God in every part of life—when it’s with a voice, how loudly do you feel like shouting or singing His glory? Have you fallen at Jesus’s feet, taking advantage of being able to come near by paying homage? Have you thanked Him?

Suggested Songs: ARP72C “God, Give Your Judgments to the King” or TPH72A “O God, Your Judgments Give the King”

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

A Picture of Our Faithful, Fruitful, Invincible King (Family Worship in 2Samuel 10)

What is it like to have God’s anointed as king? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. 2Samuel 10 prepares us for the first of the two serial Scripture readings in public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these nineteen verses of Sacred Scripture, we see that great David is an lovely but inferior picture of his greater Son, Jesus: the covenantally faithful, spiritually fruitful, invincibly victorious King.

2021.04.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 10

Read 2 Samuel 10

Questions from the Scripture text: Who died in 2 Samuel 10:1? Who reigned in his place? To whom did David propose to show kindness (2 Samuel 10:2)? Like whom? Whom did David send to do what? Who speak to Hanun in 2 Samuel 10:3? What do they suggest is the real reason David has sent servants? What does Hanun do to David’s servants (2 Samuel 10:4)? Why does David send them messengers to meet them along the way (2 Samuel 10:5)? What does he tell them to do? What do the people of Ammon see in 2 Samuel 10:6? How many Syrians do they hire from what places? Who hears about this in 2 Samuel 10:7? Whom does he send? Who come out and array themselves where in 2 Samuel 10:8? And where are the various armies of the Syrians? What does Joab see in 2 Samuel 10:9? Whom does he choose to fight against the Syrians with him? Under whom does he put the rest of the army, against whom (2 Samuel 10:10)? What does he say is the plan, if one of them start to lose (2 Samuel 10:11)? For whom does he say to be courageous and strong (2 Samuel 10:12)? Whom does he suggest will determine the outcome? According to what criteria? What happens between Joab’s select force and the Syrians (2 Samuel 10:13)? What did the people of Ammon see (2 Samuel 10:14)? What did they do? Where did they enter? Where did Joab go? But how do the Syrians now respond to their own defeat (2 Samuel 10:15)? Who is their king, and whom does he summon to where (2 Samuel 10:16)? Whom does David now gather to where (2 Samuel 10:17)? Who initiate the battle? What do the Syrians do in 2 Samuel 10:18? How many charioteers does David kill? How many horsemen? Whom else? Who see what in 2 Samuel 10:19? What do they do about it? What were the Syrians now afraid to do?

Ever since chapter seven, the Holy Spirit has been building David up for us as the prototype of the Messiah. Yahweh has been keeping His promise to establish David and his kingdom (chapter 8). And David has been the loyal, faithful-ḥessed king (chapter 9). Now we have one more chapter of this, before it all comes crashing down in chapters 11–12, which is the beginning of a long line that leaves us desperate for King Jesus.

The covenant-faithful king. David starts chapter 10 very similarly to chapter 9, looking to show steadfast love/faithfulness (ḥessed) to someone (2 Samuel 10:2a). This time, it’s the new Ammonite king whose father may have helped David when he was having his problems with Saul (verse 2b). 

Some commentators devalue what David does by arguing that it was customary, mere formalities. But the passage itself shows that even the formality of kindness isn’t necessarily customary (2 Samuel 10:3-4). Nothing like the behavior of some Ammonites to use as a backdrop to highlight David’s kindness by contrast. King Jesus is faithful in all His commitments, and here is the Lord’s anointed being an imperfect picture of that to us. 

Wouldn’t it be awful if by some grumbling about the present or anxiety about the future, our suspicions about our anointed King’s intentions put us in league with these Ammonite princes?

The spiritually fruitful king. It’s not surprising that Joab and Abishai would be valiant in battle. We are rather astonished, however, to find such good theology on Joab’s lips in 2 Samuel 10:12. Just as in other places we find those under Joseph or Daniel with good theology that they have learned from them, it speaks well of David that when pushed to extremity, Joab falls back on good doctrine. Indeed, Joab will be a surprising, godly voice on several occasions (cf. 2 Samuel 19, 24, etc.).

He knows that their courage and strength exist for the glory of God and the good of God’s people. But he also knows that Yahweh has liberty to do whatever is good in His sight—and that isn’t always the same as what is good in our own sight.

Here in 2 Samuel 10:12 is profound spiritual insight, in an intense crisis, from one whose track record is riddled with sin. And it comes as the fruit of God’s blessing that attends those whom God gathers unto His anointed servant David. How much more so for you, dear Christian, whom God has gathered to His anointed servant, the Christ—Jesus! Though your spiritual history thus far be as cringy as Joab’s, God’s grace upon His Servant promises spiritual fruit for you.

The invincibly successful king. As the Holy Spirit continues to draw this sketch of King Jesus, one of the recurring themes is how invincibly successful David is. We know that the Davidic kingdom eventually falls (even if it’s well after the northern kingdom), so the invincibility of God’s anointed underwhelms us in places like 2 Samuel 10. 

But the point was not lost on “the servants of Hadedezer” in 2 Samuel 10:19. He should have learned his lesson in v13. But after the rest of his allies are routed, he and they all decide that helping Ammon against Yahweh’s anointed is a losing proposition. As with morality, so also with victory—where mere man must ultimately fail, the God-Man must ultimately succeed. Jesus Christ is building His church, and the gates of Hell cannot prevail against it. It is that small stone that grows into a mountain that fills the earth, shattering all of the kingdoms of men(cf. Daniel 2:34–35, Daniel 2:44–45; Psalm 2).

Don’t let that point be lost on you, whether at Helam (cf. 2 Samuel 10:162 Samuel 10:17) in 2 Samuel 10 or in America in 2021. Christ’s kingdom is invincible. No corporate headquarters or legislature or capitol building can withstand the congregations that gather in worship being led from the throne of heaven. 

In what circumstances do you need Jesus’s reliable faithfulness to strengthen you against grumbling? Against what worries do you need Jesus’s reliable faithfulness to encourage you against anxiety? What spiritual discouragements about yourself need the reminder that your King’s leadership is sure to produce spiritual fruit in His people? Against what discouragements in the culture and the church do you need to bring the truth of Christ’s inevitable and invincible victory?

Suggested songs: ARP72B “Nomads Will Bow” or TPH421 “Christ Shall Have Dominion ”

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

The One Man's Obedience (Family Worship in Romans 5:12–21)

How can it be fair for Adam to sin and we be punished (or for we to sin and Christ be punished)? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Romans 5:12–21 prepares us for first portion of public worship on the coming Lord’s Day, showing that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him in “O Fountain of Unceasing Grace.” In these ten verses of Sacred Scripture, we marvel at Jesus’s obedience and the grace that comes to us as a gift thereby.

2021.04.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 5:12–21

Read Romans 5:12–21

Questions from the Scripture text: How did sin enter the world (Romans 5:12)? What entered through sin? What had all men done (verse 12)? What was already in the world before it was given on Sinai (Romans 5:13)? What happened to men from Adam to Moses, to show that the law was already in effect (Romans 5:14)? When Adam’s offense and Jesus’ grace are in competition, which does Romans 5:15 say “abounded”? How many offenses of Adam did it take to condemn us (Romans 5:17a)? From how many of our offenses did Jesus justify us (verse 17b)? What kind of gift did Romans 5:16 call this? How were many made sinners (Romans 5:19a)? How were many made righteous (verse 19b)? When the law came to be written on stone and scroll, instead of only on hearts, what abounded (Romans 5:20)? But when Jesus came and was obedient in our place, what abounded even more than the offense of those sins? Whose kingly reigns are in competition in Romans 5:21? What do each of these produce? Whom does verse 21 identify as having made this glorious difference? 

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Romans 5:12–21, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with O Fountain of Unceasing Grace

In this passage, we have one of Scripture’s great comparisons between the first Adam and the last Adam, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Some dislike the idea of Adam’s sin being counted against us. But the fact of the matter is that if we cannot be considered in our federal head, then this takes Jesus away from us. We are sinning and dying plenty for ourselves. How we ought to rejoice that there is a free gift of righteousness and eternal life for us in the obedience of Jesus Christ!

Some dislike the idea of Jesus being punished for the sins of others. But let them see that He willingly went. It is grace! It is a free gift! It is not some horror of injustice, but a mind-boggling quest of love and power!

And let all remember that apart from Jesus and His grace we are perishing. God’s law has always been on our hearts. There is no escape. One great purpose of His proceeding to give that law also in plain words was to intensify this urgency. How great is our offense against God!

And yet, it is precisely the gospel that enables us to say, “How great is my offense!” As we go through life, realizing this over and over again, we are not terrified to death, but rather more and more amazed at our eternal life.

Every time we say, “How great is my offense!” The Lord Jesus comes along in the gospel and says, “How greater is my grace!” There is no extent of the believer’s realization of his sin and death that Christ has not already answered with forgiveness and eternal life. For the believer, wherever sin abounds, grace has already abounded all the more!

How often are you amazed at your sin? Is it possible that not being amazed enough at it is keeping you from being as amazed at Jesus as you might otherwise have been?

Suggested songs: ARP51B “From My Sins, O Hide Thy Face” or TPH458 “O Fountain of Unceasing Grace”

Monday, April 12, 2021

2021.04.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 50:15–21

Read Genesis 50:15–21

Questions from the Scripture text: Who saw what in Genesis 50:15? What did they say Joseph might feel/think? What did they say that he might do? To whom did they send (Genesis 50:16)? Whom did they say had done what and when? For whom did they say Jacob had given them a special message (Genesis 50:17)? What did they say Jacob had asked him to do? How did Joseph respond to these words? What do the brothers also do in Genesis 50:18? What do they say? What does Joseph tell them not to do in Genesis 50:19? What does he ask them? What had the brothers meant (Genesis 50:20)? Who else meant something? In order to bring about what? What command does he repeat in Genesis 50:21? What promise does he make? What does he continue to do after this promise?

The guilt that can control you. It’s been about 40 years since the brothers sold Joseph into a slavery that was calculated to murder him, but the guilt of it has haunted them all that time. Nineteen years ago, when the vizier of Egypt had imprisoned one of them and demanded that they bring Benjamin back (Genesis 42:19–20), their thoughts and conversation had gone back 21 years further to the cries of Joseph still ringing in their ears two decades earlier (Genesis 42:21), with Reuben still clinging to how it wasn’t his fault (Genesis 42:22).

Now their father has died, and what’s the first thing on their minds? “Perhaps Joseph will hate us and may really pay us back all the evil we did to him” (Genesis 50:15). The brothers are so fearful, in fact, that at first they don’t even come near to him, but opt to send to him by others’ mouths (Genesis 50:16).

What a horrible thing it is to have a guilty conscience! To always be wondering whether people know. To always be worried that payback is coming. To be unable to respond rightly and healthily to situations because you’re focused on navigating the consequences of the sin that hasn’t been dealt with. To live not with the unflappable confidence and joy of a child of the king but the constant insecurity and fear of a criminal on the run.

Let us keep short accounts with men and shorter accounts with God. Come clean! There is absolutely certain welcome for you in Jesus Christ.

The God that can forgive you. One of their great problems here is that they are looking to Joseph for something that can only come from God. They use three different words for what they had done to Joseph: “trespass,” “sin,” and “evil” (Genesis 50:17). The word that they use for “forgive” has the sense of lifting away a burden, and how great is the burden of their guilt!

But that’s exactly why Joseph isn’t able to do what they ask. It’s not only that it isn’t his place. It simply isn’t within his power. They give lip service to God, but they do so not as those who are actually His servants but as part of their current strategy, for they call Him “the God of your father.” 

No wonder Joseph weeps. Surely there are many reasons, including that here after all his efforts at reconciliation, they still quite obviously don’t trust him. It’s a very lonely picture. The messenger standing in front of Joseph. His brothers not even there. Just Joseph and their untrusting words. Weeping, grieving over how his brothers are still neither reconciled to him nor to God.

But the messenger relays back to them the weeping reaction, and now the brothers are willing to come themselves (Genesis 50:18 a). The strategy shifts; they change their tune; they forget about God.” It’s before Joseph that they fall down. It’s Joseph whose servants they call themselves.

Joseph sees that they have a fear that he can’t cure, so he urges them not to be afraid, directing them to the only One who can take away that fear. “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God?” (Genesis 50:19). Only God can forgive them. Only He has that power. And those who have a forgiving God don’t have the option of refusing to forgive. So, it is not Joseph’s place or prerogative. Of course Joseph will forgive them.

The good that forgiveness guarantees both for yourself and others. When Joseph forgives them, he is doing for them what God has done for him. The reason that all things are working together for good for Joseph is that God has forgiven him his sin; God has called him according to His purpose; God has replaced Joseph’s sinful heart with one that loves Him (Romans 8:28). The God who does this by giving His Son will surely also give Joseph all things (Romans 8:32).

Notice that Joseph doesn’t let his brothers off the hook in Genesis 50:20. Their intentions were evil. Their actions were evil. But God’s intentions were good. And God’s actions were good. And not just for Joseph’s good. 

God has “saved many people alive.” That’s not ultimately a blessing for all of them. There are a large number of Egyptians whose guilt and punishment are worse because they have been against the grace of God that spared them in that famine. But God has done a temporary good to a great multitude here. 

And for some of them, it was a true blessing, because God was bringing them to faith. And for all who would come to faith (including you, I hope, dear reader, if you believe in Christ!), God was saving them through this great providence. For from Judah would come Jesus, Who saves all who believe in Him! Joseph could rest and rejoice in the truth all of his suffering had glorified God Whose goodness was done and shown in it. And Joseph could rest and rejoice in the truth that God was working that suffering together for good for all whom God is saving. 

You too, dear believer, can rejoice over this in your trials. God is in His proper place. God is working His good and will be shown good, as He glorifies Himself by your trial. And He is doing a variety of good to a variety of people through your trial. The good that He is doing you may be just the tip of the iceberg by comparison to the great good that He may be doing to many. Often in our trials, we want to know how they are working together for good for us, but we forget that in God’s wise providence, the good that comes from our trial may end up being primarily for others.

The forgivingness that comes from this good God frees you to forgive others. Finally, we see in Genesis 50:21 how free Joseph’s heart is to forgive. God is in His place. He has not only done Joseph good, but God has also brought Joseph’s heart into line with His own. Not only does he forgive them, and also promise to provide for them, but we can see the display of true forgiveness in his manner with them. He comforts them and speaks (tenderly) to their hearts. This is true forgiveness, and it comes from a heart that has been set free by knowing that God is in His place and has forgiven you!

Who has done you evil? What has God done you in that situation? How can you be sure? How will you respond?

Suggested songs: ARP51B “From My Sins, O Hide Your Face” or TPH440 “Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Wretched”

Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Triune Glory of Jesus (2021.04.11 Evening Sermon in Philippians 2:9–11)

Jesus is exalted because it is the right of His Person.
Jesus is exalted because it is His due for salvation.
Jesus is exalted because it is the pleasure of His Father.

The Place of God (2021.04.11 Morning Sermon in Genesis 50:15–21)

1. The guilt that can control you, v15
2. The God that can forgive you, v16–19
3. The good that forgiveness guarantees, v20
4. The forgiving-ness that comes from this good, v21 God's complete forgiveness in Christ means that His complete rule over all things frees us to love Him and others

WCF 14.2.2–3 Saving Faith Obeys God's Commands and Trembles at His Threatenings (2021.04.11 Sabbath School Lesson)

By faith a Christian acteth differently upon that which each particular passage of the Word containeth; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings

Saturday, April 10, 2021

2021.04.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 50:15–21

Read Genesis 50:15–21

Questions from the Scripture text: Who saw what in Genesis 50:15? What did they say Joseph might feel/think? What did they say that he might do? To whom did they send (Genesis 50:16)? Whom did they say had done what and when? For whom did they say Jacob had given them a special message (Genesis 50:17)? What did they say Jacob had asked him to do? How did Joseph respond to these words? What do the brothers also do in Genesis 50:18? What do they say? What does Joseph tell them not to do in Genesis 50:19? What does he ask them? What had the brothers meant (Genesis 50:20)? Who else meant something? In order to bring about what? What command does he repeat in Genesis 50:21? What promise does he make? What does he continue to do after this promise?

Living by sight makes us fear those we shouldn’t. Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead (Genesis 50:15 a). They knew what they deserved and worried that Joseph might repay them (verse 15b). The lie in Genesis 50:16-17 is laughable. If Jacob had a special message for Joseph, would he have told the other brothers and not told Joseph? As we saw in chapter 48 when he was adopting Manasseh and Ephraim, when Jacob did in fact have a special message for Joseph, it was Joseph to whom he told it.

The laughable lie makes Joseph cry. Why? Is it because he is hurt that the genuineness of his love for his brothers these last 17 years has been doubted? Is it because his father’s memory is being dishonored by these lies? Or is it perhaps because he is concerned for the souls of these brothers who fear God so little and him so much? The brothers live by sight, and so they fear Joseph. If we live by sight, we too will fear those we should not.

Living by sight makes us fail to fear Him Whom we should. When the brothers fall down before Joseph’s face and declare themselves to be his servants, Joseph’s initial response is instructive: “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God?” It was not Joseph’s position to repay them for their evil. There is One who repays. Vengeance belongs to Him (cf. Psalm 94:1; Hebrews 10:30). 

It was also not in Joseph’s power to repay them for their evil. Evil’s just reward is “flaming fire and vengeance… everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:8–9). There is only One who has the power to execute such vengeance. Joseph was right. They ought not have been afraid of him. But they ought to have been terrified of God.

Living by faith enables confidence and thankfulness in all circumstances. The evil brothers intended (Genesis 50:20) and did (Genesis 50:15) evil to Joseph. But they weren’t the only ones intending and acting. His good God intended and did good both to him and through him. 

There is an entire book of the Bible about this. The wicked devil intends and does evil to Job, but through it all God is intending and doing good both to him and through him. And the ultimate example of this is the cross of Christ. Never has greater evil been intended or done by the wicked devil. Never has greater good been intended or done by the good God. 

Whatever the evil are intending, and whatever evil they are able to accomplish, the good God is intending and doing good through it. Whatever your circumstances are, you can be confident in them and ought to be thankful to God for what He is doing through them.

Living by faith empowers forgiveness. If we are frightened instead of confident, it is difficult to forgive, because we worry that we might be letting our guard down and putting ourselves in danger. If we are embittered instead of thankful, it is difficult to forgive, because we are holding on to the pain, which keeps the offense fresh. 

But if we are confident in the providence of God, and thankful for the providence of God, we are much enabled to release our bitterness and forgive those who are in such danger. As we love them and do them good (cf. Genesis 50:21), we can know that either we are participating in a forgiveness project of God Himself or else amplifying and vindicating His wrath which is about to fall upon them (cf. Romans 12:20–21; Matthew 5:44–45). 

In what situation are you concerned that someone is doing you evil? What will help you respond well?

Suggested songs: ARP23B “The LORD’s My Shepherd” or TPH256 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”


Friday, April 09, 2021

Buried by God (2021.04.09 Pastoral Letter and Hopewell Herald)

Hopewell Herald – April 9, 2021

Dear Congregation,

In light of our recent considerations of death and burial in the book of Genesis (one more coming on the 18th, Lord-willing), it was with renewed interest and perspective that I read the following in Deuteronomy 32:48–50 and 34:5–6 this week:

Then Yahweh spoke to Moses that very same day, saying: “Go up this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, across from Jericho; view the land of Canaan, which I give to the children of Israel as a possession; and die on the mountain which you ascend, and be gathered to your people, just as Aaron your brother died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people.

So Moses the servant of Yahweh died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of Yahweh. And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth Peor; but no one knows his grave to this day.

That’s pretty amazing. Yahweh Himself buried Moses. He was gathered to his people on the mountain, but then Yahweh buried his body in a valley.

Another corruptible, inglorious seed planted—which will arise from that spot, glorious and incorruptible like Christ’s glorious body.

And there’s a comforting reminder there. Sometimes, we are unable to be buried with family. Or even with other believers. Perhaps we are unable to be buried at all. But, like Moses’s body, ours will be in God’s hands.

Even if lost at sea, or burned to ashes. Still in God’s hands. If our dust has been scattered, scorched, or separated, that poses no more of a challenge in the last day than if it had all been carefully kept together in an assembly of other such bodies of believers. And every particle of your body is still precious to the Lord in its union with Christ. Still in God’s hands!

That never excuses our own failing to treat the body properly. As Yahweh buried Moses, and Joseph and Nicodemus buried Jesus, and we have been learning from Genesis, the right thing to do as those who look forward to the resurrection, and who wish to make the hope of the resurrection our literal last testimony on earth, we ought to bury and be buried.

But, if we find ourselves unable, or if we are concerned about the bodies of those who have not followed sacred Scripture on this, let this be our great comfort: the bodies of believers are in God’s hands.

Looking forward to worshiping together,


P.S. A note from Justin regarding his father’s surgery on Wednesday:
Thank you all for praying, I am happy to report that my dad described the process as "drama free." Looking forward to worshipping with you all this coming Lord's Day!