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, July 31, 2021

Christian Meditation: Preaching to Ourselves from the God of the Peace (Family Worship lesson in Philippians 4:8–9)

How can we grow in our felt experience of God's peace? Pastor leads his family in yesterday's "Hopewell @Home" passage. Philippians 4:8–9 prepares us for the evening sermon on the coming Lord's Day. In these two verses of holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us how to make good use of His Word for controlling our internal, mental conversations. By meditating upon and doing what the Lord teaches us, we know His fellowship and live life as a joyous, reasonable, peace-full walking with Him.(click audio title in player for a page where you can download mp3/pdf files of this lesson)

2021.07.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 21:20–36

Read Luke 21:20–36

Questions from the Scripture text: What will apostles see where (Luke 21:20)? What will they know? Where will some of them be at the time (Luke 21:21a)? What should they do? And where will others be (verse 21b)? What should they do? What shouldn’t those who are out in the country do (verse 21c)? What days will those be (Luke 21:22)? As part of fulfilling what? What will make it much harder (Luke 21:23a)? Upon what people will there be great wrath (verse 23b)? What will happen to that people (Luke 21:24a)? And what will happen to what city (verse 24b)? Until what time? What happens at the fulfillment (Luke 21:25)? And how will men respond (Luke 21:26)? What will they see in this fear (Luke 21:27)? But how will believers respond (Luke 21:28)? Then what does He start speaking to them in Luke 21:29? With what command does He begin this parable? What are they able to tell from all the trees (Luke 21:30)? What primary thing that He told them that they would see (Luke 21:31a, cf. Luke 21:20a), and what would this mean is near (Luke 21:31b, cf. end of Luke 21:24)? By when should they expect all things they are told to see to take place (Luke 21:32)? What will pass away (Luke 21:33)? What won’t? In light of all this information, to what must they take heed (Luke 21:34)? To avoid being weighed down with which three things? If they are weighed down by those things, what would come upon them suddenly? Who will not be able to escape that moment (Luke 21:35)? What two things must they do (Luke 21:36)? At what times? By what does escape come? For what else would they be “counted worthy” (cf. Luke 20:35)?

The day is coming when the snare will be triggered, and all who dwell on the face of the whole earth will be caught in it (Luke 21:35). But Christ is unto us a Prophet by Whose instruction the apostles were sustained in their testimony, even unto death (Luke 21:12-19). And Christ is unto us a Prophet by Whose instruction believers in Judea and Jerusalem survived the Roman annihilation of that city and all who were in it (Luke 21:20-24). 

That which would be otherwise dreadful, He illustrates with spring and summer tree blossoms (Luke 21:29-30), teaching us to look with hope (Luke 21:31) upon that which others meet with dread: it is the advance of His kingdom. The things that He said would come to pass in that generation did indeed come to pass in that generation (Luke 21:32), so that we might be all the more encouraged about the absolute reliability of His Words (Luke 21:33).

So, when Christ tells us that all of the signs that come throughout the times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24-26) will be eclipsed by the arrival of the Son Himself (Luke 21:27), we pay attention to what He tells us to do. For, we know that He is instructing us unto our preservation and salvation. He is teaching us how to live in such a way that what makes other men’s hearts fail them (Luke 21:26) are the very things that fortify our own hearts so that with uplifted heads we can receive Christ as One Who arrives with our redemption (Luke 21:28).

And upon what does He tell us to focus? Taking heed to ourselves, and especially our hearts (Luke 21:34a). Living not for earthly pleasures or cares, but for the Lord before Whom we hope to stand. Just as the apostles and others in the apostolic church were “counted worthy to escape all these things” that came to pass, those who rest upon Christ, and hold to His Words, and live for Him will find that in Christ they are counted worthy “to stand before the Son of Man.” Hallelujah!

What cares threaten to weigh you down? What pleasures tempt you to seek after them instead of pleasing Christ? How much do you think about living before Him now, and what does this say about your being able to stand before Him then?

Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song ” or TPH446 “Be Thou My Vision”

Friday, July 30, 2021

2021.07.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 4:8–9

Read Philippians 4:8–9

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle call them in Philippians 4:8? What eight types of things does he mention? What does he tell them to do with these things? What things does he now mention in Philippians 4:9—in what four ways have they come to know these things? For what purpose do they have such knowledge? What/who will be with them to bring this about? 

The end of Philippians 4:9, “and the God of peace will be with you,” points back to that peace of God in Philippians 4:7 and the nearness of God at the end of Philippians 4:5. So the apostle has not yet changed the subject. He is presenting to us those habits of thought by which the Lord displaces anxiety and gives us peace and joy.

At what do we aim with our thoughts? That will make a big difference in how much we struggle with anxiety. The word translated “meditate” in Philippians 4:8 most often has the sense of considering, or reasoning, or even reckoning/accounting. Here, then is a list of the kinds of things that are to be continually brought to bear upon our minds: whatever are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report—anything virtuous, and praiseworthy. 

The first two words have to do with the genuine and lasting character of things. True: real. Noble: substantial, significant. The second two have to do with their moral quality. Just: according to God’s law. Pure: without blemish or corruption. The next two have to do with the godly’s perception of them. Lovely: that which is endearing. Commendable: that which sounds pleasant. But this list isn’t exhaustive, as the last portion makes clear: anything that is virtuous or praiseworthy.

So, we know what our thoughts should be filled with, but how do we get there? After all, our hearts are deceitful. But the apostle isn’t finished yet. All those “things” in Philippians 4:8 are “the things” at the beginning of Philippians 4:9. God has graciously maintained to us our reason, our conscience, and the principles of His law which remain upon our hearts; yet, we are still sinners and must have our judgments subjected to the Word of God. We are not abandoned to ourselves but rather given the apostolic teaching: “the things which you learned and received and heard and saw” in the apostle. The Lord Jesus, by His Spirit, has preserved for us in the writings of His apostles and prophets a comprehensive and perfectly reliable guide to anything virtuous or praiseworthy.

Our minds are the battlefield on which is waged the contest between biblical joy and worldly anxiety. The Lord Jesus taught a parable about this. In Luke 8:14–15, he talks about the competition between the heart controlled by the “cares, riches, and pleasures of life” and the “noble and good heart” that is controlled by the Word. If we wish to escape the clutches of the anxieties of this life, then we need to reject worldly riches and pleasures and instead take what the Scripture teaches as the guideline for what to keep our minds full of.

With Scripture as the guide, the “noble and good heart” is not merely theoretical but practical. Philippians 4:9 says, “these things… DO!” While the Christian life rests entirely upon what Christ has done, it is still a “doing” life, and the Bible is to be for us a doing book. As Luke 8:15 says, those who hear the Word with a noble and good heart “keep it and bear fruit with patience.”

How is the battle for your mind going? Upon what do you spend the bulk of your thoughts? How are you availing yourself of the Scriptures to shape this?

Suggested songs: ARP32B “Instruction, I Will Give to You” or TPH173 “Almighty God, Your Word”


Thursday, July 29, 2021

2021.07.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 18:19–33

Read 2 Samuel 18:19–33

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Ahimaaz ask to do in 2 Samuel 18:19? How does he summarize the results of the battle? What does Joab answer in 2 Samuel 18:20? What does he offer him instead? Why not let him carry the news today? Whom does Joab send instead (2 Samuel 18:21)? What does Ahimaaz now ask to do in 2 Samuel 18:22? What does Joab ask in response? But how does Ahimaaz now respond in 2 Samuel 18:23? And what does Joab now say? But which way does Ahimaaz run, and with what result? Where was David sitting in 2 Samuel 18:24? Who else went where? What did he see? Whom did he tell (2 Samuel 18:25)? How does the king respond? What does the watchman now see, and say, in 2 Samuel 18:26? And how does the king respond? What does the watchman recognize in 2 Samuel 18:27? What does the king conclude from the fact that the runner is Ahimaaz? What does Ahimaaz first cry in 2 Samuel 18:28? What does he then do? Whom does he bless? For what? But what does the king ask in 2 Samuel 18:29? And how does Ahimaaz answer? What does the king then tell him to do (2 Samuel 18:30)? Who arrives at that point (2 Samuel 18:31)? What does the king say? How does he summarize the results of the battle (cf. 2 Samuel 18:192 Samuel 18:28)? But what does the king ask him in 2 Samuel 18:32? And how does the Cushite answer? What effect does this have upon the king (2 Samuel 18:33)? Where does he go? What does he do there? And what does he say as he goes? What does he say he wishes had happened?

The advance of the kingdom sometimes requires honest brutality and brutal honesty. Honest brutality, we have already seen. What the Lord had told us in 2 Samuel 17:15b, Joab and company had executed in 2 Samuel 18:14–15. Our sanctification requires such brutality as well (cf. Romans 8:13, Colossians 3:5), even collateral damage if that’s what it requires (cf. Matthew 18:8–9). 

But now it’s time for the brutal honesty. Whether it’s because Joab wants to spare Ahimaaz the implied fate in 2 Samuel 18:13, or because he doesn’t think Ahimaaz will deliver the brutal truth in 2 Samuel 18:32, Joab doesn’t think Ahimaaz is the one to deliver the news of the death of the king’s son (2 Samuel 18:20). And Joab is correct. Ahimaaz begins with the most important half of the truth in 2 Samuel 18:28, but hedges when the king’s question in 2 Samuel 18:29 shows that he isn’t interested in the God’s agenda (cf. 2 Samuel 17:15b) but his own (cf. 2 Samuel 18:5).

The right Israelite for the job turns out to be a Cushite—even if he lacks the local knowledge to take the long, flat route (2 Samuel 18:23) instead of the more direct route over rougher terrain. He doesn’t have the personal nearness to David, and so he is not so sparing with him as Ahimaaz. 

There is a lesson here for our interactions with other believers. Sometimes, we come into a conversation to serve them in the Lord’s work in their lives, and things take a turn when we realize that they are not quite so onboard with Him as we had expected. We have a choice at that point: plead with them the goodness of the Lord even in this thing that they dislike (note well, the manner of the Cushite’s answer in 2 Samuel 18:32), or try to find a way to back out of the interaction (cf. 2 Samuel 18:29b). When Ahimaaz does the latter, he even compromises himself before God by lying.

It is possible to be faithful to the truth without being churlish. But it is impossible to be faithful to God and man while hedging on the truth. Even the Cushite’s faithfulness doesn’t get through to David (2 Samuel 18:33), which will require even more bluntness by Joab in 2 Samuel 19:5–7. But the Lord is too committed to David’s good to let him go. In order to follow Him in this, we need to recognize when the sympathy of our nearness, like that of Ahimaaz, endangers us of being unfaithful.

What blunt truth about your sin do you need to be telling yourself? With whom have you been soft-peddling the goodness of God to destroy His and our enemies (including their sin)?

Suggested Songs: ARP5 “Listen to My Words, O LORD” or TPH5 “Hear My Words, O LORD”


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The Kind of Man That God Uses (Family Worship lesson in Exodus 2:11–22)

What kind of man does God use to lead families, churches, and nations? Pastor leads his family in today's "Hopewell @Home" passage. Exodus 2:11–22 prepares us for the first serial Scripture reading in public worship on the coming Lord's Day. In these twelve verses of holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit introduces us to Moses's character, teaching us that God uses godly men (conviction, compassion, courage), imperfect men, and opposed men. Most of all, we learn that God ultimately uses Christ alone and that, clinging to Him, we needn't be discouraged by shortcomings or opposition.(click audio title in player for a page where you can download mp3/pdf files of this lesson)

2021.07.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 2:11–22

Read Exodus 2:11–22

Questions from the Scripture text: When does Exodus 2:11 take place? Where did Moses go? At what did he look? What did he see? Where does Moses now look in Exodus 2:12? What does he see? What does he do to the Egyptian? What does he do with the body? What day is it in Exodus 2:13? What does he do? What does he see? What does he do to the man in the wrong this time? But with what question does that man respond (Exodus 2:14a)? What second question does he ask (verse 14b)? How does Moses feel now? What does he say? Who hears about this (Exodus 2:15)? What does Pharaoh seek to do? Now how does Moses respond? Where does Moses go to dwell? What does he do there, at the end of verse 15? Whom does Exodus 2:16 introduce? What did he have? What did the daughters do? Once the troughs were filled, what happened (Exodus 2:17)? What three things does verse 17 tell us Moses did? To whom do the daughters come in Exodus 2:18? What does he ask them? What is their answer (Exodus 2:19)? What three things do they say “the Egyptian” did? Now what two questions does their father ask (Exodus 2:20)? And what does he tell them to do? For what purpose does he suggest that they call him? What change does Exodus 2:21a bring? And what does Reuel do in verse 21b? What does Zipporah do in Exodus 2:22a? What does Moses call him? Why?

With what kind of man does God deliver Israel? That is the question here in our first introduction to the character of Moses.

God uses a convicted, compassionate, courageous man. Moses has strong convictions. Hebrews 11:24–26 tells us that this identification with God’s afflicted people was a rejection of the pleasures of sin and treasures of Egypt in order to be reproached with Christ, which he counted great riches. Moses is also compassionate. He cares not only about afflicted Israelites as his brethren, but also for Midianite shepherdesses. And Moses is courageous. The hiding of the body and the surprise about it being known suggests that he as yet feared Pharaoh. It would take a face-to-fire meeting with Yahweh to overcome that. But as a newcomer to the northwestern-Sinai desert, he is willing to make enemies of those in local control in order to do the right thing. The courage that grace would later grow, the Lord had already given him in his character.

God uses an imperfect man. His killing the Egyptian may or may not have been murder. There are enough legitimate ways to understand what Exodus 2 and Acts 7 say about the incident that we must conclude that we simply don’t have enough information to judge. But certainly, Moses was a sinner. As we noted above, he fears prospectively (hiding the body), and then he also fears retrospectively (fleeing when Pharaoh seeks to kill him). Acts 7:25 tells us that he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand. But if Moses himself was fully confident of this, he would have stood against Egypt and Israel simultaneously—as he would later have to do. Moses has his own share of both wickedness and weakness.

God uses an opposed man. In every age, there have been those in the church who oppose the men whom God sets over them to do them good. This is why the incident in Exodus 2:11-15 gets seven verses (Acts 7:23–29) in Stephen’s speech about how Israel’s betraying and murdering Christ was just the most recent incident in a long history of the same behavior (cf. Acts 7:52).

We will see each of these things magnified as Moses’s story goes on. And each of them highlights Christ to us. Christ’s perfect conviction, compassion, and courage. Christ’s sinless imperfection—the only One Who can save us, for ultimately even one like Moses is flawed. Christ as the One Who overcomes all opposition in the world and the church. So, let us seek to have the Spirit produce Christ’s character in us, turning to Him with all that we are; but, let us not despair over our flaws, trusting Him to overcome all that we lack. And let us pray to God for, and thank God for, godly servants like Moses, despite their flaws.

In what character traits are you seeking to grow by God’s grace? What keeps you from being discouraged about your failings?

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH260 “All Mankind Fell in Adam’s Fall”


Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know (Family Worship lesson in Mark 10:13–16)

How does Jesus welcome the children of believers, or anyone else for that matter? Pastor leads his family in today's "Hopewell @Home" passage. Mark 10:13–16 prepares us for the opening portion of public worship on the coming Lord's Day. In these four verses of holy Scripture, we learn our need of coming to Jesus, our right of coming to Jesus, the manner in which we must come to Jesus, and the manner of that Jesus to Whom we come.

2021.07.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 10:13–16

Read Mark 10:13–16

Questions from the Scripture text: What (whom) did they bring to Jesus (Mark 10:13)? So that He might do what? Who responded, and how? Who sees this in Mark 10:14? How does He feel about their rebuke? What does He say for them to do? What does He say for them not to do? Why not forbid them? How does Jesus introduce the statement in Mark 10:15? What must everyone do in order to enter the kingdom? What three things does Jesus then do to the children (Mark 10:16)?  

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Mark 10:13–16, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Jesus Loves Me, This I Know.

The need of coming to Christ, Mark 10:13. The sinner desperately needs to know that Christ welcomes and blesses those who have nothing to offer Him. Apart from almighty, saving grace the only things an adult has more of to offer Christ is ability for sin, experience of sin, and guiltiness of sin. Certainly, the adults at the beginning of verse 13 know Jesus’s disposition to those who can offer Him nothing. They have good hope that He will care to touch them and good hope that He is powerful to help them by this touch. 

The right of coming to Christ, Mark 10:14. This hope seems dashed at the end of Mark 10:13, but Jesus’s great indignation at the beginning of Mark 10:14 revives it. The Lord Jesus is furious with His disciples for hindering infants (cf. Luke 18:15) from coming to Him. Let us beware of doing that which infuriates the King of kings. He decrees that these infants must be brought to Him, because they are His subjects. He declares their kingdom membership, their covenant membership, their church membership.

The manner of coming to Christ, Mark 10:15. Infants in Christ’s church have the same right of access as adults in Christ’s church. And when adults come, they must come in the same manner as the children. We must be carried; we must be dependent; we must be receivers of unmerited, unaccomplished blessing. As we grow, we must grow in realizing, embracing, and enjoying our complete dependence upon Him. There is maturing out of childishness, but it is a maturing into greater childlikeness. 

The manner of the Christ to Whom we come, Mark 10:16. Not only are the adults’ hopes not disappointed; but, their hopes are positively exceeded. All they had desired was a touch, but the Lord Jesus takes them up into His arms. In a subsequent action, He lays His hands upon them. The picture is precious: one arm bearing up the child, the laying of hands thus occurring by His crossing over with the other arm. Only then does the Savior speak (possibly pray) His blessing. And, as He is using both His arms for this, the process is repeated separately for each child. Each child his own embrace. Each child his own caress. Each child his own blessing. And just as we are no less needy of Jesus as adults, He is no less intensely and individually compassionate toward us. What love! What care! What a King! What a Savior!

What helpless ones of Christ’s do you bring to Him? How are you coming to Him? How do you know Him to be toward you?

 Suggested songs: ARP131 “My Heart Is Not Exalted” or TPH478 “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know”


Monday, July 26, 2021

2021.07.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 21:20–36

Read Luke 21:20–36

Questions from the Scripture text: What will apostles see where (Luke 21:20)? What will they know? Where will some of them be at the time (Luke 21:21a)? What should they do? And where will others be (verse 21b)? What should they do? What shouldn’t those who are out in the country do (verse 21c)? What days will those be (Luke 21:22)? As part of fulfilling what? What will make it much harder (Luke 21:23a)? Upon what people will there be great wrath (verse 23b)? What will happen to that people (Luke 21:24a)? And what will happen to what city (verse 24b)? Until what time? What happens at the fulfillment (Luke 21:25)? And how will men respond (Luke 21:26)? What will they see in this fear (Luke 21:27)? But how will believers respond (Luke 21:28)? Then what does He start speaking to them in Luke 21:29? With what command does He begin this parable? What are they able to tell from all the trees (Luke 21:30)? What primary thing that He told them that they would see (Luke 21:31a, cf. Luke 21:20a), and what would this mean is near (Luke 21:31b, cf. end of Luke 21:24)? By when should they expect all things they are told to see to take place (Luke 21:32)? What will pass away (Luke 21:33)? What won’t? In light of all this information, to what must they take heed (Luke 21:34)? To avoid being weighed down with which three things? If they are weighed down by those things, what would come upon them suddenly? Who will not be able to escape that moment (Luke 21:35)? What two things must they do (Luke 21:36)? At what times? By what does escape come? For what else would they be “counted worthy” (cf. Luke 20:35)? 

In the previous passage, the Lord Jesus had given the apostles some non-signs of the non-end (Luke 21:8-11), while redirecting their attention to what they were going to suffer (Luke 21:12Luke 21:16-17), and what they were to accomplish (Luke 21:13Luke 21:18-19), and how they were to prepare for it (Luke 21:14-15). Things turned out exactly as He had prophesied. The apostolic ministry was successful, their testimony was secured and preserved, and the church was established.

Now, in Luke 21:20-24, the Lord Jesus gives them a sure sign of a non-end. It’s important that the word “surrounded” in our translation is a present participle, i.e., “being surrounded.” That would be key in believers’ ability to follow His instruction in Luke 21:21. The Roman noose around Jerusalem closed slowly from a.d. 66 to a.d. 70, but when it closed, it closed. As the final siege began, it took the Romans took just three days to encircle the entire city with a stone wall, and no one who was in the city at that point survived.

Long before that, however, history records an exodus of Jewish Christians from Jerusalem and the establishment of a colony of former-Jerusalemite Christians about fifty miles away, outside Judea, beyond Samaria, and into the region of the Decapolis. With special care for believers (and even particularly special care for the pregnant, the nursing, and their infants, Luke 21:23), Jesus gave specific instructions to save His people from a day of Roman and divine (cf. Luke 19:41–44) wrath (Luke 21:22Luke 21:23b). The heart of the church would move out of Jerusalem and even Judea and Samaria; the times of the nations (“Gentiles”) will have arrived (Luke 21:24b). Once again, the Lord Jesus gave His people specific instruction, His prophecy was fulfilled, and His people were sustained by His Word.

The reference to the completion of the times of the Gentiles in verse 24b leads into Jesus’s discussion of “the end” (Luke 21:9b) about which they had assumed that He was speaking in Luke 21:7. This would not be like the Romans encircling Jerusalem. By the time the terrifying signs of Luke 21:25-26 arrive, so will Jesus Himself (Luke 21:27). Luke 21:27-28 and Luke 21:30-31 speak of arrival and being at hand, not a “nearness” of “close but not there yet.” 

There won’t be advance notice; it will snap suddenly upon everyone on the whole earth (Luke 21:35). There’s no one who can escape, and there’s nowhere to escape to. The only thing to do is to be part of a group for whom Christ’s return is a day of redemption (Luke 21:28) not a day of vengeance like the fall of Jerusalem had been. If you thought the Roman armies forewarned something horrible for Christ’s enemies in Jerusalem, what will that day be which arrives with sudden unraveling of all creation (Luke 21:25-26)?

Whether “this generation” in Luke 21:32 is a time-reference to the example of Jerusalem in a.d. 70 or a moral reference to those who have resisted Christ and His prophets as elsewhere in Luke (cf. Luke 11:47–51Matthew 23:29–39), the point is the same: Christ’s words will absolutely hold true (Luke 21:33), and at the time of His return the earth will still be full of enemies in the same vein as those who have been killing those whom He sends throughout human history.

How can you tell the difference between those for whom Jesus’s return is a day of vengeance, and those for whom it is a day of redemption? Those who belong to Jesus believe His words and heed His warnings. As did the apostles, by whose testimony the Lord Jesus established the church. As did the Jerusalem church, which was delivered as the Decapolis church by heeding Him.

Jesus warns us not to tie our hearts down to earth by carousing (a life wasted in self-indulgence), by drunkenness, or even by anxieties. The only way to be prepared for something that will spring suddenly and inescapably is to always be prepared (“watching out at all times in praying so that you may be counted worthy to escape” the vengeance and instead stand in the day of the Son of Man (Luke 21:36). 

It’s so easy to waste our lives in pleasure-seeking, or in distractions that numb us from reality, or in worrying over the things that face us every day. Where can we get ability to find our pleasure in the Lord and in serving Him? Or the ability to deal levelly with whatever comes in God’s providence and persist in service and obedience? Or the ability to maintain joyfulness and peacefulness through it all? God’s ability, in the place of our inability, is called grace (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:9–10); and, the Lord Jesus tells us here that grace-dependent watchfulness operates by a continual looking to God for it in prayer.

The point of these passages is to watch and pray unto a life of holiness, in the midst of a world that is at enmity with Christ. While it is folly to think that we can predict His return, it is a greater folly to be living in any different than we will wish we had been when He appears. The Lord Jesus is your Prophet, and He has prophesied and commanded these things in order to spare you.

To which are you more prone: pleasure-seeking, life-evading, or hand-wringing? How are you going about watching and praying for God’s grace against these? 

Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song ” or TPH172 “Speak, O Lord”


Saturday, July 24, 2021

Pardoned and Instructed for the Honor of God's Name (2021.07.21 Prayer Meeting lesson in Psalm 25:1–11)

We don't just need instruction in righteousness; we need to be made righteous; and, we need to be forgiven for it even to be right for us to be instructed in righteousness, or for it to be right for us to be made righteous. The LORD'S Name is at stake in vindicating those who wait upon Him, v1–3. We need to be taught and led, v4–5. Therefore, we need to be forgiven, v6–7. Hope in the LORD is well-placed, for He exalts Himself by pardoning sinners, v8–11.

2021.07.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 21:20–36

Read Luke 21:20–36

Questions from the Scripture text: What will apostles see where (Luke 21:20)? What will they know? Where will some of them be at the time (Luke 21:21a)? What should they do? And where will others be (verse 21b)? What should they do? What shouldn’t those who are out in the country do (verse 21c)? What days will those be (Luke 21:22)? As part of fulfilling what? What will make it much harder (Luke 21:23a)? Upon what people will there be great wrath (verse 23b)? What will happen to that people (Luke 21:24a)? And what will happen to what city (verse 24b)? Until what time? What happens at the fulfillment (Luke 21:25)? And how will men respond (Luke 21:26)? What will they see in this fear (Luke 21:27)? But how will believers respond (Luke 21:28)? Then what does He start speaking to them in Luke 21:29? With what command does He begin this parable? What are they able to tell from all the trees (Luke 21:30)? What primary thing that He told them that they would see (Luke 21:31a, cf. Luke 21:20a), and what would this mean is near (Luke 21:31b, cf. end of Luke 21:24)? By when should they expect all things they are told to see to take place (Luke 21:32)? What will pass away (Luke 21:33)? What won’t? In light of all this information, to what must they take heed (Luke 21:34)? To avoid being weighed down with which three things? If they are weighed down by those things, what would come upon them suddenly? Who will not be able to escape that moment (Luke 21:35)? What two things must they do (Luke 21:36)? At what times? By what does escape come? For what else would they be “counted worthy” (cf. Luke 20:35)? 

In the previous passage, the Lord Jesus had given the apostles some non-signs of the non-end (Luke 21:8-11), while redirecting their attention to what they were going to suffer (Luke 21:12Luke 21:16-17), and what they were to accomplish (Luke 21:13Luke 21:18-19), and how they were to prepare for it (Luke 21:14-15). Things turned out exactly as He had prophesied. The apostolic ministry was successful, their testimony was secured and preserved, and the church was established.

Now, in Luke 21:20-24, the Lord Jesus gives them a sure sign of a non-end. It’s important that the word “surrounded” in our translation is a present participle, i.e., “being surrounded.” That would be key in believers’ ability to follow His instruction in Luke 21:21. The Roman noose around Jerusalem closed slowly from a.d. 66 to a.d. 70, but when it closed, it closed. As the final siege began, it took the Romans took just three days to encircle the entire city with a stone wall, and no one who was in the city at that point survived.

Long before that, however, history records an exodus of Jewish Christians from Jerusalem and the establishment of a colony of former-Jerusalemite Christians about fifty miles away, outside Judea, beyond Samaria, and into the region of the Decapolis. With special care for believers (and even particularly special care for the pregnant, the nursing, and their infants, Luke 21:23), Jesus gave specific instructions to save His people from a day of Roman and divine (cf. Luke 19:41–44) wrath (Luke 21:22Luke 21:23b). The heart of the church would move out of Jerusalem and even Judea and Samaria; the times of the nations (“Gentiles”) will have arrived (Luke 21:24b). Once again, the Lord Jesus gave His people specific instruction, His prophecy was fulfilled, and His people were sustained by His Word.

The reference to the completion of the times of the Gentiles in verse 24b leads into Jesus’s discussion of “the end” (Luke 21:9b) about which they had assumed that He was speaking in Luke 21:7. This would not be like the Romans encircling Jerusalem. By the time the terrifying signs of Luke 21:25-26 arrive, so will Jesus Himself (Luke 21:27). Luke 21:27-28 and Luke 21:30-31 speak of arrival and being at hand, not a “nearness” of “close but not there yet.” 

There won’t be advance notice; it will snap suddenly upon everyone on the whole earth (Luke 21:35). There’s no one who can escape, and there’s nowhere to escape to. The only thing to do is to be part of a group for whom Christ’s return is a day of redemption (Luke 21:28) not a day of vengeance like the fall of Jerusalem had been. If you thought the Roman armies forewarned something horrible for Christ’s enemies in Jerusalem, what will that day be which arrives with sudden unraveling of all creation (Luke 21:25-26)?

Whether “this generation” in Luke 21:32 is a time-reference to the example of Jerusalem in a.d. 70 or a moral reference to those who have resisted Christ and His prophets as elsewhere in Luke (cf. Luke 11:47–51; Matthew 23:29–39), the point is the same: Christ’s words will absolutely hold true (Luke 21:33), and at the time of His return the earth will still be full of enemies in the same vein as those who have been killing those whom He sends throughout human history.

How can you tell the difference between those for whom Jesus’s return is a day of vengeance, and those for whom it is a day of redemption? Those who belong to Jesus believe His words and heed His warnings. As did the apostles, by whose testimony the Lord Jesus established the church. As did the Jerusalem church, which was delivered as the Decapolis church by heeding Him.

Jesus warns us not to tie our hearts down to earth by carousing (a life wasted in self-indulgence), by drunkenness, or even by anxieties. The only way to be prepared for something that will spring suddenly and inescapably is to always be prepared (“watching out at all times in praying so that you may be counted worthy to escape” the vengeance and instead stand in the day of the Son of Man (Luke 21:36). 

It’s so easy to waste our lives in pleasure-seeking, or in distractions that numb us from reality, or in worrying over the things that face us every day. Where can we get ability to find our pleasure in the Lord and in serving Him? Or the ability to deal levelly with whatever comes in God’s providence and persist in service and obedience? Or the ability to maintain joyfulness and peacefulness through it all? God’s ability, in the place of our inability, is called grace (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:9–10); and, the Lord Jesus tells us here that grace-dependent watchfulness operates by a continual looking to God for it in prayer.

The point of these passages is to watch and pray unto a life of holiness, in the midst of a world that is at enmity with Christ. While it is folly to think that we can predict His return, it is a greater folly to be living in any different than we will wish we had been when He appears. The Lord Jesus is your Prophet, and He has prophesied and commanded these things in order to spare you.

To which are you more prone: pleasure-seeking, life-evading, or hand-wringing? How are you going about watching and praying for God’s grace against these? 

Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song ” or TPH172 “Speak, O Lord”


Friday, July 23, 2021

2021.07.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 4:6–7

Read Philippians 4:6–7

Questions from the Scripture text: For what may we be anxious (Philippians 4:6)? In how many things are we to make our requests known? By what two actions? With what attitude? With what from Himself will God respond (Philippians 4:7)? What does it surpass? What two things will it guard? Through whom? 

Believers have peace with God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7), but we often fail to rejoice in Him (cf. Philippians 4:4). The path to obeying the “always” rejoicing of verse 4 is a “never-fretting” and “always-praying” in Philippians 4:6. Thankfully, believers have the divine assurance of Philippians 1:6 and Philippians 2:13 of God’s working in us. The peace of God does not depend upon our performance of Philippians 4:6’s commands. But, the God upon Whom we depend has appointed what verse 6 commands as the means by which His peace will guard our hearts.

What are the means by which His peace takes up a fortified position around our heart and refuses to allow in anxiety so that we can always rejoice?

Prayer. Orienting oneself to God. Coming before His presence and directing our hearts and mouths toward Him. Bowing down in posture and spirit to lay our souls before Him as an act of worship. Something that sinners may only do through the blood of Christ.

Supplication. A specific part of praying that comes from personal neediness and knowing God as gloriously abundant to supply all our needs. Also called petition, this aspect of prayer is a glorifying and enjoying of God’s sufficiency, as the purpose of our neediness. It is an eager looking forward to how He will be praised in meeting those needs. His grace is sufficient for us, and in this part of prayer is our rejoicing in weakness, because His strength is made perfect in it.

Thanksgiving. Equal parts gratitude and submission, this part of submission looks backward at how perfectly God has always answered the prayers of His people generally and our own particular prayers specifically. And thanksgiving looks forward, knowing that where God’s grace has enabled us to ask well, we shall have it; but, wherever we have asked poorly or insufficiently, His mercy will give us according to His wisdom instead. How can anxiety survive, when it is being suffocated by thankfulness for what God is going to do, without even the need of knowing what that will be?

Requests. This is asking for specific action by God to intervene, perhaps for ourselves but especially on behalf of others. We tell Him exactly what it is we hope He will do. What a liberating truth! When made with the gratitude and submission of thanksgiving, we are free to offer our actual desires unto God. 

You don’t have to figure out the right thing to ask for. As His Word shapes and corrects our thoughts, our requests will be more and more in line with what we can know from His Word that He will do. But, wherever we are at in our Christian growth, we don’t have to shrink from expressing our desires to Him. He has specifically commanded us to do so!

When we consider the four words for prayer from Philippians 4:6, we see how well-suited are God’s means to God’s ends when it comes to His making His peace to guard our hearts. Wonderfully, He promises that this peace of God will far outpace the extent to which we can understand how this would work. But, we can see that these particular aspects of prayer are specially designed anxiety-killers.

And, if we find that our use of the means is lacking, we may present ourselves to Him, lifting up our insufficiency to pray well, gratefully submitting to His wisdom in His ongoing work in our lives, and asking specifically that through His granting us to grow in praying the way that is directed here, He would remove our anxiety.

What part of the praying described above seems most alien to you? Whom can you ask for help to conform your praying more to this? In what manner should you be asking for that help? Since Philippians 4:6 is a command from God, what else should you be doing besides praying?

Suggested songs: ARP55C “But as for Me, I’ll Call on God” or TPH520 “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”


Thursday, July 22, 2021

2021.07.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 18:1–18

Read 2 Samuel 18:1–18

Questions from the Scripture text: What did David do to those who were with him (2 Samuel 18:1)? In order to do what? Into how many main divisions did he divide them (2 Samuel 18:2)? Under whom? What then did he say to the people? How do they answer in 2 Samuel 18:3? For what reason do they want him to stay where instead? How does the king respond in 2 Samuel 18:4? What does he do? Whom does the king command in 2 Samuel 18:5? What does he tell them to do? Why? Who hears this instruction? Where do the people go in 2 Samuel 18:6? Against whom? Where does the battle end up? Who were overthrown before whom (2 Samuel 18:7)? With what result? What factors led to this result (2 Samuel 18:8)? Upon whom does 2 Samuel 18:9 now focus? What happened to him in what way? How does this participate in the “result factors” from 2 Samuel 18:8? What does this suggest (cf. 2 Samuel 17:14)? What did a man do in 2 Samuel 18:10? Whom did he tell what? How did Joab respond in 2 Samuel 18:11? What did he say he would have given him for what? What did the man say wouldn’t have been enough (2 Samuel 18:12)? Why? What does the man say he would have done to whom if he’d killed Absalom (2 Samuel 18:13)? Whom does he suggest would have done him in? How does Joab interrupt in 2 Samuel 18:14? What did he go do to whom where? Who else went (2 Samuel 18:15)? Whose special forces were they? What did they do? Then what did Joab do (2 Samuel 18:16)? And what did they do with Absalom (2 Samuel 18:17)? And what did Absalom’s forces do? By what means was Absalom memorialized, since his body was under a heap of stones in the woods (2 Samuel 18:18)?

The main features of this passage seem to be David’s concern, Joab’s conniving, and God’s control.

First, there is David’s concern. He begins by playing the part of a king. He numbers the people (2 Samuel 18:1a). He organizes the military in its various ranks (verse 1b) and into three main divisions (2 Samuel 18:2a). He initially goes out to lead it himself (verse 2b)—something which, if he had done it in chapter 11, could have averted all of this.

But it is when the people convince him that it’s in the best interest of the cause that he stay behind (2 Samuel 18:3-4) that we then learn what his great concern is: that Absalom come through this ok. Since he’s not going to be out in the field leading the operations directly, he now gives the three generals the over-arching order of the day in 2 Samuel 18:5. This is at cross purposes with what we know (2 Samuel 17:14) to be God’s intention in all of this. 

So, David’s concern is at odds with God’s concern. That’s not promising. We ought to have our concerns directed by the Word of God. Yes, Absalom was a son. But he was also a murderer and now a usurper who had raised himself up against the Lord’s anointed. When a child grew up to be uncorrectable, his parents were to be the first to give testimony at his stoning (cf. Deuteronomy 21:18–21). God’s Word was clear about what David’s concern should have been. 

Then, we see Joab’s conniving. He and all David’s servants know the orders (2 Samuel 18:52 Samuel 18:12). But Joab has his own orders to give (2 Samuel 18:11), his own mission objective to complete (2 Samuel 18:14), and his own servants (2 Samuel 18:15). When David comes unraveled as the history turns over into chapter 19, Joab has the necessary sway to avert disaster. 

It’s helpful to see all the plotting that Absalom had done, and all the plotting that Joab is doing, because we live in an age where there are people plotting on every side in every situation. Indeed, Psalm 2 implies that this is the story of every age. But as we see in this passage, man’s plotting doesn’t undo God’s sovereign control in the least bit. He overcomes opposition (Absalom), employs imperfect servants (Joab, David), and even works directly through creation.

Which brings us to God’s control. While 2 Samuel 17:14 has prepared us to see the entire history from this viewpoint, it’s especially underscored by 2 Samuel 18:8-9. “The woods devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.” That means that at least 10,000 Israelites (cf. 2 Samuel 18:7) met their end through humanly unassisted means in the woods! By what mechanisms can this occur? 2 Samuel 18:9 gives us an example: a mule, a terebinth tree, and two hundred shekels’ weight of hair (cf. 2 Samuel 14:26) conspire to hang the usurper-king helplessly in the air. This leaves him vulnerable to three spears to the heart (2 Samuel 18:14) and ten men outfitted with the premium armor (2 Samuel 18:15).

By using the mule, the tree, and the hair, God makes His point at the end of Joab’s spear(s): whatever concerns men like David may have, and whatever conniving into which men like Joab may enter, it is ultimately God Who is in control.

Absalom missed this. He missed it when he thought he could overcome the Lord’s anointing by taking over the kingdom. He missed it when he set up a monument to overcome his God-appointed childlessness (2 Samuel 18:18). He wouldn’t be buried by that pillar, but under a very large heap of stones in the very woods that killed him (2 Samuel 18:17). Don’t you miss it too. God’s supreme control should squash our pride and extinguish our anxiety. His concerns will be the ones ultimately addressed, and His conniving will have the ultimate success!

What is something about which you are deeply concerned? How does God’s Word direct (or perhaps, need to correct) that concern? What long-term plans or preparations are you making, and how are you submitting to Christ in both what you pursue and whether He brings it to fruition? What is God’s ultimate plan for the world, for the wicked, and for believers? 

Suggested Songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage” or TPH231 “Whate’er My God Ordains Is Right”


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

2021.07.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 1:22–2:10

Read Exodus 1:22–2:10

Questions from the Scripture text: Who commands whom in Exodus 1:22? What are they to do with sons? What are they to do with daughters? From what people are the man and woman in Exodus 2:1? What do they do? What is the subsequent result in Exodus 2:2? What does she see about the child? What does she do with him? What happens after three months (Exodus 2:3)? What does she then take, and what does she do to it? Whom does she put in it? Where does she lay it? Who stands where (Exodus 2:4)? Why? Who comes down to do what where in Exodus 2:5? Who are walking along the riverside? Who sees the ark? Whom does she send to do what? What does Pharaoh’s daughter do in Exodus 2:6? What does she see? What does the baby do? How does Pharaoh’s daughter respond? What does she say? Who initiates in Exodus 2:7? What does she offer to get? How does Pharaoh’s daughter respond in Exodus 2:8? Whom does the sister/maiden get? What does Pharaoh’s daughter command the baby’s mother to do (Exodus 2:9)? What will she give her for it? What does the woman do? Instead of dying, what does the child do (Exodus 2:10)? Then where does his mother bring him? What does he become? What name does Pharaoh’s daughter finally give him at this point? Why?

We have previously noticed that the 430 years of Exodus 12:40–41 and Galatians 3:16–17 began not with the rise of the new Pharaoh and enslavement, but with the promise made to Abraham, who was a sojourner in the land, and whose descendants were also aliens until the time of Joshua. This is reinforced by the fact that the Hebrew of Exodus 2:1 refers to Jochebed as “the” daughter of Levi (cf. Exodus 6:18–20). Jacob was Moses’s great-grandfather. This history is much faster-paced and more intense than many realize.

And this intensity is both because of how the Lord is hastening to bring the promised seed (cf. Genesis 3:15) and because of how determined the Serpent is to exterminate that seed. Having failed to enlist Shiphrah and Puah, Pharaoh now gives his entire people the Satanic charge of extermination—a genocidal quest that we later see in Haman, Herod, Rome, Islam, the Roman Catholic Church, and more recently in Totalitarian Statism, with more believers being exterminated in the last century than in all the prior history of the church combined.

In a foretaste of what the Lord has done most gloriously in Christ, He uses one from Pharaoh’s own household (and at genuine risk to her own life, verbalizing in Exodus 2:6 that she recognizes this is a Hebrew child!) to preserve a redeemer for the murder-threatened Israelites. In fact, by the end of the passage, his mother is being paid to nurse him and to bring him up in the faith that would hold strong against all of the Egyptian indoctrination that Exodus 2:10 initiates (cf. Hebrews 11:23–26). 

The grand lesson is how completely the Lord sovereignly rules over all Satanic attack. The irony of the passage is very sweet. But the more detailed lesson is how those who trust in such a God as this are emboldened by that faith to defy seemingly undefeatable power. 

Amram and Jochebed hide their baby for three months (Exodus 2:2). Then, when it becomes too challenging, they hide him from being cast into the Nile in the last place one might be expected to do so—the Nile itself. The reeds camouflage the basket, and the sound (should he make any) of a wailing infant boy would have a ready (though too evil and too familiar) explanation. The word for the basket is only elsewhere used of the ark of Noah. The Lord knows how to save His elect from any danger!

The sister (perhaps Miriam, though the passage does not explicitly say so) was probably to retrieve the basket in the evening if she was able. But the divine thwarting of whatever the parents’ plan is a much greater thwarting of Pharaoh’s. Here is the deliverance of not only a baby, but an entire nation, from Pharaoh. And here is the deliverance of not only a baby, but of all believers in Christ throughout the ages, from Satan.

So let us not underestimate what the Lord will do through parents’ courage in ordinary faithfulness against extraordinary threats.

And let us also note how much may be done, by the almighty work of God’s Spirit, in even the youngest of covenant children. Hebrews 11:23 tells us that “by faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden.” By whose faith did Moses do this? Not by his own, but by his parents’ faith. One of the ordinary ways that God, Who alone gives faith, is pleased to give that faith is by means of believing parents. Moses’s parents had faith. Moses’s parents hid him. Moses’s parents were not afraid of the king’s command.

We do not know how long Jochebed nursed Moses physically. It was probably three years; it could have been as many as five or six. But we can be sure that the daughter of Levi and her husband (himself a grandson of Levi) were nursing Moses spiritually that entire time. They knew what trials would await his soul, when he was turned over to Pharaoh’s house (cf. Acts 7:21–22). 

We don’t know exactly what trials await our children’s souls. But we know our covenant God, Who is pleased to work faith and spiritual life in them, even from youngest infancy, in a way that will stand and grow throughout the remaining trials of their lives. Let us nurse them spiritually, with faithfulness and diligence, until the providence of the King of kings takes them from us into the trials and tasks that await them.

Finally, let us remember that as with Job or Haman, and especially with Christ, our Redeemer is using the devil’s own attacks to do marvelous, perfect good. We may see much such attacking in our lifetime, but every bit of it that we see will have its part in the Lord gathering in His elect, building His church, and perfecting them unto His glory and their perfectly blessed enjoyment of Him forever. May God grant unto us the faith not to fear the king, so that we and our children may be marvelously saved by the King of kings, and marvelously used by the King of kings in His saving plans for others.

What place do persecuted Christians have in your thoughts and prayers? Of what attacks on your own self/children/church are you tempted to be fearful? What is God doing through them? How are you making use of the limited time opportunity to participate in the spiritual nurture of children in your own home and congregation?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge” or TPH407 “Let Our Choir New Anthems Raise”


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

2021.07.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Colossians 3:12–15

Read Colossians 3:12–15

Questions from the Scripture text: What three things does Colossians 3:12a call us? What five things does verse 12b command us to put on? In order to put these on, what must we always be doing with one another (Colossians 3:13a)? And what must we further do, under what circumstance (verse 13b)? What is the pattern for forgiving when we have a legitimate complaint (verse 13c)? What place does love have (Colossians 3:14)? What does this verse call love? What must rule in our hearts (Colossians 3:15)? In what way were we called to this? What else must we be?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Colossians 3:12–15, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with It Is Well with My Soul.

The knowledge of Christ’s forgiving us (Colossians 3:13b) enables our hearts to be ruled by the peace of God (Colossians 3:15) by assuring us of the three glorious realities that the apostle highlights as he addresses the Colossian believers at the beginning of Colossians 3:12.

Elect. God is not obligated to give anyone mercy. For Christ to come at all, for Christ to die on the cross, for spiritual life to be given to any individual in order to believe in Christ, it all had to come from the free choosing of God. He had to choose to do so, and everyone for whom He has done so was freely chosen by Him. 

For us, this means that our salvation can never fail. What began in the Creator cannot be undone by the creature. Because our peace with God is a peace that has been forged by God, it is an everlasting, complete, and unwavering peace. If you have the peace of God, it is because you are the elect of God. Hallelujah!

Holy. God doesn’t make alliances with evil. His eyes are too pure to look upon evil. The Judge of all the earth will do right. If you have the peace of God, it can only be because you have been set apart to God as holy by being united to Jesus the Holy One, and you have been accounted as holy by means of Jesus’s own holiness. Now, God’s perfect commitment to His own holiness is demanding that every genuine good possible be done for you.

Beloved. It is not only God’s eternally unchangeable choice and unwavering holiness that have brought you peace with God, but His love. Election by God is in Christ, the beloved. Holiness unto God is in Christ, the beloved. Peace with God is in Christ, the beloved. God is love—all that love is, God is. And in this is love, that Jesus laid down His life for us (cf. 1 John 3:16) because God loved as and sent Him for us (cf. 1 John 4:9). 

Having peace with God means that you are elect, and holy, and beloved! And by that confidence that you are elect and holy and beloved, the peace of God rules in your heart. When this is the ground of your peace, and the effect of your peace, what can possibly shake it? What sorrows? What blows from Satan or trials? Can these take away a peace that has come through the cross of Christ? Or the sure hope of salvation in the last day?

By this peace, we are enabled to love others with those tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, and longsuffering to which Colossians 3:12 commands us. By that same peace, we are able to bear with one another and forgive one another (Colossians 3:13). 

If we have that peace with God, and our brother also has that peace with God, we see that we are called together in one body (Colossians 3:15). Love for one another as those who are one in Christ is the perfect bond for holding us together (Colossians 3:14). This is the result, when our whole life is lived as a thankful response to peace that has been perfectly obtained for us (end of Colossians 3:15).

Over what sorrows are you grieving? How is Satan attacking you? Through what trials are you going? What peace do you have in the midst of this? How does this enable you to treat others?

Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH476 “It Is Well with My Soul”


Monday, July 19, 2021

2021.07.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 3:16–21

Read Joel 3:16–21

Questions from the Scripture text: In addition to the Yahweh’s nearness in the valley of decision (Joel 3:14-15), from where else does Yahweh do what in Joel 3:16? What effect does this have on what parts of the creation? What is He being for His people in this way? What is He being for whose children? What will they know about Him (Joel 3:17)? Whose is He? Where does He dwell—what is its name, and how else does He describe it? What does this do to Jerusalem? Who will not pass through her again? What will the mountains do in that day (Joel 3:18)? And the hills? And the brooks? From where will a fountain flow? What will it water? What will be a desolation (Joel 3:19)? What will be a desolate wilderness? Why? What have they done? But what will happen to Judah (Joel 3:20)? And Jerusalem? For how long? How/why—what happens to their guilt (Joel 3:21)? How?

There’s nothing that we can offer God by which to escape His judgment (Joel 3:1-8) and no power in us by which to endure His judgment (Joel 3:9-15). So, how can it be that believers come into such perfect protection, peace, possession, purity, pleasure, provision, permanence, and presence? By God’s free atonement of His people. The blessing He gives us is perfect…

Protection, Joel 3:16a–c, Joel 3:19. The roaring of Yahweh is infinite danger for His enemies, regardless of origin. But its origin here is important: Zion, Jerusalem. The power that petrifies them is the power that protects His people.

Peace, Joel 3:16d–e, Joel 3:17d. This is the great reversal of coming to God through faith in Jesus Christ. All of the power that once struck terror into you now shelters and strengthens you. Here is shelter that cannot be penetrated, strength that is always more than enough, and both of which will never cease.

Possession, Joel 3:17a. The believer is his Beloved’s, and his Beloved is his. Here is the great promise of knowing union and communion (fellowship) with the living God: “So you shall know that I am Yahweh your God.”

Purity, Joel 3:17b–c. Whatever belongs to Yahweh in a covenantal sense is holy. If He personally identifies Himself with Zion, then the mountain itself is holy. If we are His Jerusalem, then we must be holy. When He appeared before Moses or before Joshua, the dirt itself became so holy that footwear had to be removed. And He commands us to be holy because He is holy. Here in Joel 3:17 is the implication that He Himself will give the required holiness. And if this is our hope, we should strive for it as well.

Pleasure, Joel 3:18a–c. The land is described to be gushing, oozing, flowing not only with bare necessities but with rich luxuries of wine and milk. Truly, Yahweh will have restored what the locusts had consumed.  And with the provision of holiness, there will not even be the danger of drunkenness or gluttony—only physical manifestation of and enjoyment of God’s great goodness to His people. He created us with bodily capacity for pleasure so that we might be pleased with Him in every pleasantness. And the ultimate expectation that He sets before His people is that our final state will overflow with rich pleasure in this area.

Provision, Joel 3:18d–f. In a land that depended on two brief rainy seasons, here is a super-abounding promise of provision. But it is made even better by the personal nature of that provision. There was never a river in or by Jerusalem during the biblical record, but here (as with the temple in Ezekiel and Eden itself in Genesis 2) the water flows out from the place that God has made the center of His people’s experience of Him. The picture is that the luxuriant gifts of the first half of the verse are produced by this new way of watering that comes from the second half.

Permanence, Joel 3:20. A new age is truly in view, for Judah and Jerusalem had dwelt under continual threat of covenant curses that included the removal of rain and climactically of exile. But the provision in Joel 3:18 neutralizes the danger of the drought, and the permanence in Joel 3:20 eliminates the possibility of exile. Here is the everlasting covenant, a final day in which the church has been purified and glorified; there is no longer any mixture or lacking in her, and there is no longer any possibility of an exiled people or a removed lampstand. 

Presence, Joel 3:21. “For Yahweh dwells in Zion” is the ultimate explanation of each of these other blessings. He Himself is His own greatest blessing. He would be without any of the others, and all of the others are ultimately ways by which to enjoy Him. Man’s chief end is to glorify God and fully to enjoy HIM forever.

Why will this be true in Judah and Jerusalem (Joel 3:20), when it is most surely and horrifically not true for Egypt and Edom? It is not because Judah is not guilty of bloodshed. The translation of Joel 3:21 is difficult, because it says, “I will acquit of bloodguilt those whom I don’t not-acquit.” He forgives His people by determining not to condemn them. 

In order for this to occur, Christ had to be condemned in our place, so that we might be vindicated in union with Him. But, He tells us in Joel 3:21 that He will give us all this blessing by putting us into a position in which His justice will DEMAND these blessings for us. He Who did not spare His own Son, will most certainly and freely give us ALL things together WITH HIM (cf. Romans 8:32)! 

What blessings are you already enjoying that are smaller foretastes of each of these blessings? How can they be actual blessings to you, instead of occasions for sin, or goodness that testifies against you on the last day? How does this affect the way that you should be enjoying them? 

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


Saturday, July 17, 2021

2021.07.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 3:16–21

Read Joel 3:16–21

Questions from the Scripture text: In addition to the Yahweh’s nearness in the valley of decision (Joel 3:14-15), from where else does Yahweh do what in Joel 3:16? What effect does this have on what parts of the creation? What is He being for His people in this way? What is He being for whose children? What will they know about Him (Joel 3:17)? Whose is He? Where does He dwell—what is its name, and how else does He describe it? What does this do to Jerusalem? Who will not pass through her again? What will the mountains do in that day (Joel 3:18)? And the hills? And the brooks? From where will a fountain flow? What will it water? What will be a desolation (Joel 3:19)? What will be a desolate wilderness? Why? What have they done? But what will happen to Judah (Joel 3:20)? And Jerusalem? For how long? How/why—what happens to their guilt (Joel 3:21)? How?

There’s nothing that we can offer God by which to escape His judgment (Joel 3:1-8) and no power in us by which to endure His judgment (Joel 3:9-15). So, how can it be that believers come into such perfect protection, peace, possession, purity, pleasure, provision, permanence, and presence? By God’s free atonement of His people. The blessing He gives us is perfect…

Protection, Joel 3:16a–c, Joel 3:19. The roaring of Yahweh is infinite danger for His enemies, regardless of origin. But its origin here is important: Zion, Jerusalem. The power that petrifies them is the power that protects His people.

Peace, Joel 3:16d–e, Joel 3:17d. This is the great reversal of coming to God through faith in Jesus Christ. All of the power that once struck terror into you now shelters and strengthens you. Here is shelter that cannot be penetrated, strength that is always more than enough, and both of which will never cease.

Possession, Joel 3:17a. The believer is his Beloved’s, and his Beloved is his. Here is the great promise of knowing union and communion (fellowship) with the living God: “So you shall know that I am Yahweh your God.”

Purity, Joel 3:17b–c. Whatever belongs to Yahweh in a covenantal sense is holy. If He personally identifies Himself with Zion, then the mountain itself is holy. If we are His Jerusalem, then we must be holy. When He appeared before Moses or before Joshua, the dirt itself became so holy that footwear had to be removed. And He commands us to be holy because He is holy. Here in verse 17 is the implication that He Himself will give the required holiness. And if this is our hope, we should strive for it as well.

Pleasure, Joel 3:18a–c. The land is described to be gushing, oozing, flowing not only with bare necessities but with rich luxuries of wine and milk. Truly, Yahweh will have restored what the locusts had consumed.  And with the provision of holiness, there will not even be the danger of drunkenness or gluttony—only physical manifestation of and enjoyment of God’s great goodness to His people. He created us with bodily capacity for pleasure so that we might be pleased with Him in every pleasantness. And the ultimate expectation that He sets before His people is that our final state will overflow with rich pleasure in this area.

Provision, Joel 3:18d–f. In a land that depended on two brief rainy seasons, here is a super-abounding promise of provision. But it is made even better by the personal nature of that provision. There was never a river in or by Jerusalem during the biblical record, but here (as with the temple in Ezekiel and Eden itself in Genesis 2) the water flows out from the place that God has made the center of His people’s experience of Him. The picture is that the luxuriant gifts of the first half of the verse are produced by this new way of watering that comes from the second half.

Permanence, Joel 3:20. A new age is truly in view, for Judah and Jerusalem had dwelt under continual threat of covenant curses that included the removal of rain and climactically of exile. But the provision in Joel 3:18 neutralizes the danger of the drought, and the permanence in Joel 3:20 eliminates the possibility of exile. Here is the everlasting covenant, a final day in which the church has been purified and glorified; there is no longer any mixture or lacking in her, and there is no longer any possibility of an exiled people or a removed lampstand. 

Presence, Joel 3:21. “For Yahweh dwells in Zion” is the ultimate explanation of each of these other blessings. He Himself is His own greatest blessing. He would be without any of the others, and all of the others are ultimately ways by which to enjoy Him. Man’s chief end is to glorify God and fully to enjoy HIM forever.

Why will this be true in Judah and Jerusalem (Joel 3:20), when it is most surely and horrifically not true for Egypt and Edom? It is not because Judah is not guilty of bloodshed. The translation of Joel 3:21 is difficult, because it says, “I will acquit of bloodguilt those whom I don’t not-acquit.” He forgives His people by determining not to condemn them. 

In order for this to occur, Christ had to be condemned in our place, so that we might be vindicated in union with Him. But, He tells us in Joel 3:21 that He will give us all this blessing by putting us into a position in which His justice will DEMAND these blessings for us. He Who did not spare His own Son, will most certainly and freely give us ALL things together WITH HIM (cf. Romans 8:32)!

What blessings are you already enjoying that are smaller foretastes of each of these blessings? How can they be actual blessings to you, instead of occasions for sin, or goodness that testifies against you on the last day? How does this affect the way that you should be enjoying them?

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


Friday, July 16, 2021

2021.07.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 4:4–5

Read Philippians 4:4–5

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle command them to do (Philippians 4:4)? In Whom? When? How does he reinforce this command? What new command does Philippians 4:5 add—what ought they make known to whom? Why?

The apostle here commands us to rejoice. How is that possible? Scripture here corrects the lie that rejoicing must be caused by feeling good. True, Christian rejoicing is not produced by unreliable and unstable good-feeling; true, Christian rejoicing is produced by our perfectly reliable, perfectly stable Lord. That is how it is possible to command rejoicing. That is how it is possible to rejoice always.

When things are going pleasantly, our joy is not to be in that pleasantness. Rather, we should think about the Lord Who has given that pleasantness. And how He gave Himself for us on the cross. And how He has risen again and reigns, and how He will return for us in the last day. And even more, how He has done all of this in order to give Himself to us forever and ever, and that He has already given Himself to us by His Spirit!

However pleasant our circumstances are, it is never enough to outweigh our being “in the Lord” as cause for rejoicing! Even if the demons submit to us, we are to rejoice instead that our names are written in heaven (cf. Luke 10:20).

Of course, circumstances are not always pleasant. But, even the most unpleasant circumstances can’t dislodge a particle of those wonderful truths of the reality of a believer’s being in the Lord. He can still rejoice in all of them, and he still is commanded to rejoice in the Lord! Always!

But the constant nearness of the Lord enables us to do even more than maintain and express a joyful heart. It also enables us to respond fittingly, kindly, gently to men in every circumstance. It is true that Jesus may return for us at any moment, and that this is good reason to seek always to be treating others as we would have Him find us doing. This is one part of what the apostle indicates in Philippians 4:5.

To understand the verse fully, however, we need to read it in the context of Philippians 4:4. He is already nearby, by our union with Him and by His Spirit’s indwelling us. Those who are inhabited by Christ’s Spirit, and united with Him to Whom we are being conformed, should constantly exhibit the fruit of that Spirit (cf. Galatians 5:22–23) and the character of that Christ (cf. Isaiah 42:1–4, 2 Corinthians 10:1).  

The Lord Jesus is near us to give us His sweet fellowship. The Lord Jesus is near us to press us into His sweet form. The Lord Jesus is near us to give us the sweet freedom to glorify Him and serve others. 

When we let our reasonable/fitting gentleness be known to all, we display that Jesus is near to us.

How do you keep mindful of your being in the Lord and His nearness to you? In what circumstances has this produced surprising joy in your heart or surprising gentleness toward others?

Suggested songs: ARP32B “Instruction I Will Give to You” or TPH281 “Rejoice, the Lord Is King”


Thursday, July 15, 2021

Fitted for Glory in the King of Glory (2021.07.14 Prayer Meeting lesson in Psalm 24)

We exist to glorify God and enjoy His glory, but we are disqualified from it and unfit to enter. God's solution is for Himself to become a Man with the very worthiness of God, so that we are received into glory in the King of glory.

2021.07.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 21:5–19

Read Luke 21:5–19

Questions from the Scripture text: What did some (ignoring Jesus’s lesson from Luke 21:1-4) speak about in  Luke 21:5? What does Jesus call the temple and the donations in Luke 21:6? What days does He say will come? What is the first question they ask in Luke 21:7? What is the second question? With what command does He respond in Luke 21:8? What will people claim to be? What aren’t they to do with such people? Of what else will they hear (Luke 21:9)? How are they not to respond? But what will not come immediately (which event they had confused with the destruction of the temple)? What will be happening during this not-the-end period (Luke 21:10)? What other five things (Luke 21:11)? What events should the disciples be more personally focused upon (Luke 21:12)? Why will these specific events happen to them (Luke 21:13)? And what should the apostles, during their period before the types of things in Luke 21:10-11, do when they are about to be put on such a trial (Luke 21:14)? Why not—what promise does Jesus make about their testimony (Luke 21:15)? How will they come into these arrests, imprisonments, and trials (Luke 21:16)? How should they expect the culture to respond to their ministry (Luke 21:17)? What will be true, even if they die as Luke 21:16 had said (Luke 21:18)? Making good use of this knowledge, how are they enabled to act (Luke 21:19)?

The disciples miss what Jesus is saying about what has been devoted to God and how it ends up being used (Luke 21:5). Jesus had said that the poor widow put her life in, which is far more valuable than the beautiful stones that can be purchased a couple pennies at a time. So, He reminds them of what He’s just said a few days ago: God’s about to wipe all this out (Luke 21:6, cf. Luke 19:41–44). We’re so easily distracted from what lasts and matters!

The distraction continues in their questions in Luke 21:7. They’re making two great mistakes: (1) focusing upon what God intends to do Himself, rather than what part God gives them to do in it, and (2) assuming that the destruction of Jerusalem is going to come at the end with His return. The second error, He’s going to tackle in Luke 19:20–38 as He distinguishes the predictable and escapable destruction of Jerusalem from His own unpredictable and inescapable return.

The problem of wrong focus is the subject of our portion this week: the apostles have an assigned role upon which they need to be focusing. He begins in Luke 21:8-11 by saying not to be fooled by earthly claims or even apparent heavenly signs into thinking that the end has come. But even before such claims and signs inevitably come, something else that comes first: persecution (Luke 21:12) and testimony (Luke 21:13).

They need to be focusing neither upon the fall of Jerusalem (which Jesus implies comes after the apostolic period, which puts a back-end on that period of 67 A.D. and the beginning of the siege). Rather, they need to be focused upon expecting to be apprehended, persecuted, and handed over (Luke 21:12), even by closest family and friends (Luke 21:16), and even ending in death (end of verse 16).

Why is all of this going to happen? So that they can give testimony (Luke 21:13) even before kings and rulers (end of Luke 21:12). So what are the apostles to do? Two things.

First, they are to settle in their hearts not to mull over what they are going to say (Luke 21:14), because Jesus is going to confound the rulers of the earth through answers that He gives them in the moment (Luke 21:15), and they will survive until this mission is completed (Luke 21:18). Even then, every hair is accounted for (cf. Psalm 116:15; Luke 12:7).  

Scripture instruction for us would actually be opposite to this. We are to master (or, rather, be mastered by) the apostolic and Scriptural provision of Jesus’s conquering truth (cf. 2 Timothy 3:12–4:5) so that we will always be ready to give an answer for our hope (cf. 1 Peter 3:13–17). It’s ultimately the same provision, but we have a different role from the apostles and are the beneficiaries of Christ’s having kept His promises to them. Many are deceived into thinking that lack of study and preparation is somehow more spiritual, but it was quite specifically to the apostles that Jesus gave this instruction to settle it in their hearts not to meditate beforehand how they will answer (Luke 21:14).

The second thing that the apostles are to do is “by patience possess your souls” (Luke 21:19). The patience described here is the patience of persistence, perseverance. They are commanded to possess/obtain/purchase their souls through persisting in what the Lord has called them to do, despite the highest cost and stiffest opposition. 

Jesus has also called us to this perseverance. We know the Lord who has paid the purchase price. He has told us that following Him is like being crucified daily (cf. Luke 9:23), both in dying to self as master that we might live unto Christ as master (cf. Galatians 5:24), and in that it is through many tribulations that we must enter the kingdom (cf. Acts 14:22, 2 Timothy 3:12). 

We are tempted to be distracted by prognosticating Christ’s return. But Jesus redirects our focus to being mastered by His Word and persisting in service and obedience to Him so long as He extends to us our life in this world.

In what circumstances are you currently obeying and serving the Lord? How are you pursuing being mastered by His Word in them? How are you refraining from distracting prognostication?

Suggested Songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH1B “How Blest the Man”


Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Scoffing Kills Wisdom; Under-Standing Builds It

Family worship lesson in "the Proverb of the day." A warning that when we read the Bible in resistance to the truth, or in pride over/against those who have come before us, we neutralize any hope we had of actually finding the wisdom that we told ourselves we were seeking. But when we stand-under the Word in humility, this Under-Standing facilitates knowledge. And, the more that we understand the Word in any and every place, the more we will be able to understand the Word in every other place.

2021.07.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 17:15–29

Read 2 Samuel 17:15–29

Questions from the Scripture text: Who speaks to whom in 2 Samuel 17:15 (cf. 2 Samuel 16:35–36)? What two groups’ advice does he tell about? Who else’s advice does he tell about? What does he send to tell David to do (2 Samuel 17:16)? What does this imply about whose advice Hushai thinks will prevail? Whose location does 2 Samuel 17:17 give? Why (cf. 2 Samuel 16:35–36)? What communication setup did they have in place? But what had just happened to them now (2 Samuel 17:18)? So where were they now? Where did they hide? What does the woman do (2 Samuel 17:19)? Who come in 2 Samuel 17:20? What do they ask? What might they suspect? What does she say about their location in relation to the water reservoir (more literally translated)? What then do Absalom’s men do? When Absalom’s men are gone, what do Jonathan and Ahimaaz do (themselves, this time, 2 Samuel 17:21)? What is David called here (2 Samuel 17:172 Samuel 17:21, cf. 2 Samuel 16:18)? How does he respond to the news (2 Samuel 17:22)? What does Ahithophel see (2 Samuel 17:23)? What does he do? Where does David go in 2 Samuel 17:24? What does Absalom finally do? Who is with him? Whom does he make general (2 Samuel 17:25)? From whose family (cf. 1 Chronicles 2:13–17)? Where was Absalom’s camp (2 Samuel 17:26)? What three men, from what three places, come to David’s camp at Mahanaim (2 Samuel 17:27)? What do they bring for rest (2 Samuel 17:28)? For refreshment? For nourishment (2 Samuel 17:28-29)? What thought had led them to do this?

The Spirit has already given us a determining factor behind the events that are occurring in the next chapter and a half or so. Yahweh is defeating the “good” (effective) of Ahithophel in order to bring disaster upon Absalom. So the outcome of these events is already decided. Yahweh is making display of Himself and His ways to us, for whom the outcome of the events of our life is already decided (cf. John 6:40, John 6:54; Romans 8:28, Romans 8:32, Romans 8:39).

What is God’s providence like, between now and the already-determined outcome?

Sometimes, God’s providence is very exciting, 2 Samuel 17:15-22. Hushai doesn’t even know that his advice has won the day, but he sends a message in 2 Samuel 17:15 that we have good reason to expect will arrive (as it does, in 2 Samuel 17:21) and be followed (2 Samuel 17:22). However, there is intrigue and the testing of faith along the way. At one point, a bunch of the story is stacked up on top of itself. There’s water in a well, and two priests’ sons on top of the water, and a lid on top of the sons, and camouflage on top of the lid, and the servant girl who usually carried the message on top of the lid—telling Absalom’s servants that the sons are on top of the water (that they themselves don’t know is there, and assume is a brook, as our translation also assumes (2 Samuel 17:20).

Sometimes, God’s providence gives us sad warnings, as in 2 Samuel 17:23. The greatest analytical ability in the world can tell you that you are in deep earthly trouble, but it cannot solve the much more important eternal question of what will come of you when you die. Ahithophel can see exactly how things are going to fall out in this life, so he makes his arrangements and takes matters into his own hands, as he was accustomed to doing.

Ahithophel had worked hard to push down on the truth about the wrath and reality of God (cf. Romans 1:18–19). All of the other accurate calculations of his life are obliterated by this one, great miscalculation. As soon as he had taken his life, he discovered what a great miscalculation this was. Whatever else we know, whatever other skill we have, there is nothing more important than to live before the face of God, trusting in His love and righteousness for us in Jesus.

Sometimes, God’s providence is surprisingly restful and refreshing, as in 2 Samuel 17:24-29. Absalom has a strong position in Gilead (2 Samuel 17:26), and all Israel with him, and a captain of the army from David’s own family (2 Samuel 17:25). But David has Yahweh Himself, Who can put it into the hearts of servants from all over (2 Samuel 17:27) to bring supplies for good sleep, and washing up (2 Samuel 17:28), and rich feasts (2 Samuel 17:28-29). Even in the wilderness and on the run, the Lord provides for His servant in such a way as to remind him—and us!—that He has literally all the resources in creation and more for taking care of us.

In what difficult situation do you find yourself? How is confidence in His perfect providence helping you walk through it worshipfully and obediently? What does “worshipful and obedient” look like in this case?

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

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

2021.07.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 23

Read Psalm 23

Questions from the Scripture text: Who is our Shepherd (Psalm 23:1)? What shall we not do? In what does He make us to lie down (Psalm 23:2)? Beside what does the Lord lead us? What does He restore (Psalm 23:3)? In what paths does the Lord lead us? For what reason? Through what valley will we walk (Psalm 23:4)? What will we not fear? Why—who is with us? What two things of His comfort us in verse 4? What does the Lord prepare for us (Psalm 23:5)? Where? What does He do to our head? What happens to our portion of the cup of blessing? What shall goodness and steadfast love surely do (Psalm 23:6)? How many of the days of our lives will they do this? Where will we dwell/return forever? 

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Psalm 23, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Who Trusts in God, a Strong Abode. This Psalm is precious to us for the portrait it gives us of what it is like to be shepherded by the LORD Jesus.

The Good Shepherd, Psalm 23:1. Jesus declared Himself the Good Shepherd, identifying Himself as Yahweh from many Old Testament passages, including this one. In Psalm 22, we had the great Psalm of Him laying down His life for the sheep. In this Psalm, we have the great Psalm of Him living to lead His sheep who know His voice and follow Him.

The word for Shepherd is actually a participle of the verb for shepherding. This gives a tone of activity and constancy to the statement. Of course, then, with Him constantly and actively shepherding us, we will not lack anything. In our union with Jesus and communion (fellowship) with Jesus, it is impossible that we would lack anything—anything material or spiritual, anything good.

When we need rest, Psalm 23:2. The word for green pastures implies the youngest, best, tender grass. This is where He gives us rest. The waters themselves in the second part are waters of quietness. Whenever we have rest, we ought to see in it the tenderness and compassion of our Lord Jesus.

When we need restoration, Psalm 23:3. The first line of this stanza can refer to conversion, but how many are the wanderings and spiritual declensions that a believer may pass through in this life. Our Shepherd will always restore us. His path is righteous, and it leads us to righteousness, and He leads us in righteousness. Since this is initiated within God Himself (“For His Name’s sake”), nothing in time or creation can undo it. 

When we need reinforcement, Psalm 23:4. Because life is fraught with the threat of death, and we often come near it, its shadow falls often upon our path and climactically at the end of that path. But in every one of those instances, we must not fear either any harm or any wicked foe. The most important variable in each situation actually isn’t at all variable: The Lord Jesus is with us.

The rod is for defense and direction; the staff has a crook on the end and is useful for support and even yanking out of danger in a pinch. Our Shepherd has complete sway over every enemy and every danger; He directs/corrects us as necessary, and lifts and rescues us as needed.

When we need refreshment, Psalm 23:5. The preparation of the table indicates not a meager portion but a feast. How helpless is that enemy who must watch both the preparations and the feasting itself, and can do nothing to stop it! The rest of the verse highlights the welcome (You anoint my head with oil) and the portion (my cup runs over) that we may expect at His table. There is no stinginess or shortness of supply here. Only abundance that no enemy can stop.

Relentlessly, Psalm 23:6. Several terms in this verse underscore the relentlessness of the Lord’s blessing us. “Surely” emphasizes certainty and has a tone of exclusivity (“only”). “Follow” means to hunt, chase down, and persecute. Good and steadfast love are ever hot on our heels, wherever we go. “All the days” and “for length of days” (“forever”) are self-explanatory. Good and steadfast love are aspects of God’s character. They cannot fail anymore than He can stop being God. The path of the believer has in it many twists and turns, through many locations. But He is with us in all of it; His goodness and covenant-love are always right on top of us; and, it always ends at last in His house.

Do you know Jesus to be the LORD and your Shepherd? In what sort of season of life are you? How is Jesus with you in it? What is He doing? What does He expect you to be doing?

Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH475 “Who Trusts in God, a Strong Abode”