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

Friday, December 31, 2021

2021.12.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 11

Read Exodus 11

Questions from the Scripture text: Who speaks to whom in Exodus 11:1? What will He bring? How many? On whom? Then what? In what manner? Whom must Moses now command to do what (Exodus 11:2, cf. Exodus 3:22)? Why were these requests successful (Exodus 11:3a)? And what had the Lord done to Moses (verse 3b)? In what two different groups’ sight (verse 3c)? Whose Word does Moses now speak to the people (Exodus 11:4a)? When will this thing happen (verse 4b)? Who will go where (verse 4c)? With what effect (Exodus 11:5a)? Whose firstborn, very specifically, shall die (verse 5b)? Who else’s (verse 5c–d)? What will there be (Exodus 11:6a)? Where? Of what kind? Who will be exempted (Exodus 11:7a)? From what (verse 7b)? Why (verse 7c)? Into what will God have made Pharaoh himself, and all Egypt (Exodus 11:8a)? And what will they do unto Moses (verse 8b)? Then what will Moses do? And where does he go (verse 8c)? In what manner? Where has he been since Exodus 10:24? Who speaks to whom in Exodus 11:9? What does He remind him must happen until this is complete? How does Exodus 11:10 summarize the entire history since Exodus 7:6?

When the plagues narrative was about to begin in Exodus 7:6, the Lord announced (as He does many times throughout it) its great purpose: “and the Egyptians shall know that I am Yahweh, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them (Exodus 7:5). In the previous chapter, He had announced this purpose with reference to Israel: “Therefore say to the children of Israel: I am Yahweh; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians; I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am Yahweh your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (Exodus 6:6–7).

That’s what this has been all about: the LORD displaying Himself so that His people and all people will know what kind of God He is Who saves His people. What kind of God He is Who has made promises to Abraham (Exodus 6:8; note well that His promises to Abraham include promises for all the families of the earth!). What kind of God He is Who keeps all His promises. And what kind of God He is Who commands us in how we shall live (cf. the preface to the commandments in Exodus 20:1–2).

So, what kind of God is He?

A generous God. When the Lord first called Moses in chapter three, He made a very generous promise. How would a nation of slaves make it across the desert? How would a nation of slaves be able to possess and settle the promised land? In Exodus 3:21–22, the Lord had promised that they would plunder Egypt. For centuries, the world’s treasures had flowed into Egypt so that the people of God could leave with them in the Exodus. Now He commands that very plundering in that very manner in Exodus 11:2, and brings it to pass in Exodus 11:3

With this in the history of His redeeming Israel, the Lord teaches a similar idea about His true Israel (the people of Christ, the great Servant King, from all ages and nations) in Isaiah 60:1–7, Isaiah 61:6. Indeed, all the treasure that unbelievers labor to accumulate can only serve Christ and His people. Theirs will be gone forever in an instant, but believers will inherit a new heavens and a new earth whose treasures shall never vanish. This generous God of Exodus 11 is our Lord Who has given Himself for us, Who has given Himself to us, and adds to that infinite gift all other things as an additional gift.

An honoring God. To our God belongs all honor and praise and glory. Had we crowns, we would cast them down at His feet. But He is also the God who is pleased to reflect His own honor upon us by raising us up. Exodus 11:3 describes how greatly He had exalted Moses. Your God, dear Christian, is pleased to raise up His servants in honor. Your Lord Jesus tells you to take the lower place, and He will raise you to the higher (cf. Luke 14:7–11). By His Spirit, He commands us through the apostle to humble ourselves with one another, in confidence that He is pleased to exalt us (1 Peter 5:5–6). Our God is One Who is pleased to exalt the lowly ones that He redeems. Those whom He justified, He also glorified (Romans 8:30). 

A personal God. In these plagues, we have seen the Lord send frogs upon the people, and flies, gnats, and locusts. We commonly call the tenth plague the plague of death. But looking at Exodus 11:4, we might also call it “the plague of God.” He will now send Himself into the midst of Egypt. God, of course, is everywhere. But there are times and places where He makes Himself more intensely known to us. Nowhere will this be more true than in eternity, when the redeemed will know His favorable presence fully and immediately forever (cf. Revelation 21:3), and the wicked will know His furious presence fully and immediately forever (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:8–9). The great danger in the tenth plague is the more immediately communicated presence of God Himself. Just as you who are in Christ are to remember that the Lord is always with you, so also remember that your persecutors are always before Him, and He will one day make this presence fully known.

A dreadful God. How great is His justice! How great is His wrath! How great is His power! We needed that the man who would bear the penalty for our sin be One Who took that His human nature upon Himself as a divine Person. For how infinite is the wrath that He had to endure! Exodus 11:6 places a special emphasis in this chapter upon the greatness of the wailing and crying of the Egyptians. A wailing that anticipates how Christ describes the Hell into which the wicked are cast forever (cf. Matthew 13:42, etc.).

A difference-making God. The Lord displayed Himself as a distinction-making God in the creation. Heavens distinct from earth. Light distinct from darkness. Land distinct from sea. But His great work in making a distinction is the one reflected in Exodus 11:7: Yahweh who makes a difference in salvation. The difference was not in Israel. They (and we!) were wicked and deserved this dreadful wrath of God. But He makes the difference. Election and predestination are not merely finer theological points by which nerds bore others and boors pummel others. Election and predestination are wonderful doctrines that display our redeeming God as the One who makes the difference.

A powerful God. How determined Pharaoh has been that Israel shall not leave! But when they do go, how determined he will be that they do leave! “When he lets you go, he will surely drive you out of here altogether” (Exodus 11:1, emphasis mine). And then Exodus 11:8 tells us that Pharaoh will bow down to Moses (still in darkness from the ninth plague, since he will never see Moses’s face again) and plead with him that they would leave, and that their leaving would complete. 

This was the point of the wonders. They weren’t just wonders in the abstract. They were Yahweh’s own wonders. “My wonders” (Exodus 11:9b). His wonders by which He would make Himself known to Israel and make Himself known to Egypt. Up to this point He had hardened Pharaoh’s heart (Exodus 11:10b), so that the wonders would not just be one or a few but multiplied (Exodus 11:9b). And He used His servants to do every last one of these wonders (verse 10a) and make Himself known.

Of what aspect of God’s display of His character in the plagues did you most need reminding just now? How will you respond in your heart to this part of His character? How will you respond in your behavior?

Sample prayer:  Our God and our Lord, our Creator and our Redeemer, Your greatest gift to us has been to give us to know You. And we rejoice that this has been Your great purpose in our redemption. Forgive us for when we are forgetful of Who You are and what You are like—or, even worse, when we are unaffected by these glorious of Yours. Grant us hearts that adore You with great pleasure and rest in You with sweet confidence, for we ask it in that Name by which You have made Yourself known to us, even Jesus, AMEN!


Thursday, December 30, 2021

2021.12.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Colossians 3:5–8

Read Colossians 3:5–8

Questions from the Scripture text: What are believers to do to which aspects (“members”) of themselves (Colossians 3:5a)? Which six members of themselves does verse 5b mention as being “on earth” (i.e. from our former fleshly/earthly nature, rather than from their new/Spiritual/heavenly nature)? What is coming because of these things (Colossians 3:6a)? Upon whom (verse 6b)? What have believers previously done (Colossians 3:7a)? When (verse 7b)? What are we to do with the things in which we no longer walk or live (Colossians 3:8a)? What four expressions of members does verse 8b specifically identify?

This passage teaches us very clearly how to think about our remaining sin and how to respond to our remaining sin.

Recognize remaining sin as part of us but no longer the nature of who we are. Christ is our life now (Colossians 3:4), which means our life is hidden with Him in God (Colossians 3:3b), and our former self has died (verse 3a). What is this former self who died? Among other things, it is a self that walked in sin and lived in sin (Colossians 3:7). 

Does this mean that believers no longer sin? No. There are remnants of our former self that are not set “on things above” but rather “on the earth” (Colossians 3:5). In Colossians 3:2, the apostle was not talking about geography but mindset. He was not talking about ignoring this world but rather about setting the principles and priorities of heaven over-against the principles and priorities of a fallen world. 

So when he tells us to “put to death your members which are on the earth,” he is calling to our attention that there are aspects of the believer’s now-deceased former self that are themselves still alive and kicking. They do not belong to who we are now, but they are still attached to us and part of us. Believers should recognize their remaining sin, and take responsibility for their remaining sin, even while rejoicing that their remaining sin is no longer “who they are” (Colossians 3:3a, Colossians 3:7; cf. Romans 7:17–18, Romans 7:22–23).

Kill remaining sin, and put it off, as that which has no right to us and no place in heaven. It’s important for us to see what the apostle is telling the Colossians in Colossians 3:5. Colossae isn’t Corinth, but the believers there have all of these things yet in their hearts to some extent. So do all believers on earth today. 

One of the ways that gullible westerners have been such easy prey for Islamic jihad is that they thought they could be friends. They did not realize that there were enemies present. They did not know or act as if they were at war. If you are a believer, you are at war. If you fail to recognize your enemy, or think that you can coexist with your enemy, you will only harm yourself. 

A little bit of lust is not okay. Kill it. Enjoying the filthiness of a joke is not ok. Kill any remaining tendency to smirk at what is crass. Being controlled by your emotions is not ok. It’s something you should kill. Thinking something is fun because it is forbidden is called evil desire. Suffocate it. Complaining against God’s providence to you, or wishing it was different, is to put yourself and the desired thing in the place of God. You don’t shrug at that “remaining fallenness”; you ruthlessly execute it and seek to be content with God Himself as your Portion. 

(Hasty) anger and wrath are not just part of life. It is part of your former life. Put that off, and start getting dressed for heaven. Hostility and bitterness in your heart are malice. That’s the clothing of the old man, not suitable for resurrected residents of heaven. Get rid of it. Light speaking of God is indicative of someone who has not come near to Him and knows not His glory. Refuse to have such speech attached to you. Filthy language has no place in your mouth; wash it out by the Spirit, and never let it back in.

Yes, it is a fact that believers have much that is earthly and fleshly yet attached to them. But we have a new life in Christ that is from heaven and for heaven. We must be killing that which remains from our former self, and putting off that which is suitable only to our former life.

Which of these things that you should be killing is most “alive” still in your life? Which of these things that you should be putting off do you still “dress” in most often? How can you be confident in this killing and putting off?

Sample prayer:  Holy, holy, holy God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—how we thank You for creating us that we might enjoy You. And especially for redeeming us in Christ, killing our former, wicked selves and raising us up together with Him to reflect and enjoy Your holy glory. Forgive us for being so passive about letting things from our former selves linger, and give us zeal in the pursuit of that life and character that belongs to our new and eternal life with You. For, we ask it through the Name in which You have saved us, Jesus Christ, AMEN!


Wednesday, December 29, 2021

2021.12.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Kings 2

Read 1 Kings 2

Questions from the Scripture text: What days drew near (1 Kings 2:1)? Whom does David address? What is David doing? What must Solomon do (1 Kings 2:2)? How does David further describe this manliness (1 Kings 2:3)? What special promise has Yahweh made if Solomon does this (1 Kings 2:4)? Whom does Solomon need to repay for what (1 Kings 2:5-6)? And whom else for what else (1 Kings 2:7, cf. 2 Samuel 19:31–39)? What promise had kept David from punishing Shimei for what (1 Kings 2:8)? Why is Solomon able to fix this (1 Kings 2:9)? What did David do in 1 Kings 2:10a? What did they do to him in verse 10b? How long had he reigned where (1 Kings 2:11)? In what condition did he hand over the kingdom (1 Kings 2:12)? Who comes to whom in 1 Kings 2:13? What does she suspect/ask? Why has he come (1 Kings 2:14)? What does he claim in 1 Kings 2:15a? But what does he admit in verse 15b? What does he ask in 1 Kings 2:16-17 (cf. 1 Kings 1:1–4)? How does she respond in 1 Kings 2:18-21? What does wise Solomon recognize about this request (1 Kings 2:22)? What does he determine in response (1 Kings 2:23-25)? What Adonijah ally does Solomon tell to do what in 1 Kings 2:26? Why does Solomon “go easy” on him? What is ultimately behind this providence (1 Kings 2:27)? Who recognizes new danger (1 Kings 2:28)? What does he do? What does Solomon command (1 Kings 2:29-31)? Why was this necessary; what would it do for David’s house and throne (1 Kings 2:32-34)? Who replace Joab and Abiathar (1 Kings 2:35)? Whom does Solomon tell to do what in 1 Kings 2:36? What will happen if the conditions are broken (1 Kings 2:37)? How long does this go (1 Kings 2:38-39)? Where does Shimei go and why in 1 Kings 2:39-40? Who finds out (1 Kings 2:41)? By whom had Shimei sworn (1 Kings 2:42)? What does Solomon ask (1 Kings 2:43)? What further does Solomon charge (1 Kings 2:44a)? What will the Lord do to Shimei and his house for all of this (verse 44)? But what will the Lord to whom else (1 Kings 2:45)? What command is carried out in 1 Kings 2:46a? Consolidating what ultimate effect (verse 46b)?

There are two “summary” statements in this chapter that highlight for us the Spirit’s intent in giving us this portion of Scripture:

(1) “The Solomon sat on the throne of his father David’ and his kingdom was firmly established” (1 Kings 2:12)

(2) “King Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before Yahweh forever… Thus the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon” (1 Kings 2:451 Kings 2:46)

In the broader scope of Scripture as a whole, a Son of David has been promised in 2 Samuel 7, and it must be a very specific son of David. 1 Kings 1 centered upon making sure that the wrong son of David did not succeed him. Now, as the correct son takes the throne, and as the Spirit declares the firm establishing of his kingdom, we have some hints about what to look for when the King of Promise comes. 

The King of Promise will be manly—that is, godly. As this chapter on kingdom-establishing begins, David gives his son a command, “be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man” (1 Kings 2:2). 1 Kings 2:3 further explains what this means: to keep the charge of Yahweh your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses.” 

We live in a society that is hostile toward manliness in men, and some respond by admiring brashness and boorishness, harshness of conduct and absence of manners. But this is not biblical manliness. Biblical manliness is strength and courage and resolve and perseverance in following the commandments of God and in responding to the providence of God according to the principles that God has laid down in His Word.

Let men not be floppy in posture, flimsy in speech, or flighty in labor and endeavor. But let them show the firmness of manliness especially in righteousness of conduct and consecration of the life unto God. Christ the King is Himself the definition of uprightness and consecration. And His humanity is not some non-gendered abstraction, but that of a boy and then a man whose masculinity always agreed with God’s design. Just as there is not an unrighteous moment in all of Christ’s life, so there is not a feminine moment in His youth and not an unmanly moment in the entire adulthood of our King.

The King of Promise will be wise. David himself asks Solomon to mop up Joab (1 Kings 2:5) according to his wisdom (1 Kings 2:6), which even before the request in 1 Kings 3:9 seems to be a distinction that David sees between himself and his son. For, he makes the same point about why Solomon is a good candidate (verse 9a) for putting the Shimei problem to rest (1 Kings 2:8-9). In the building of the temple, there was already a sense in which Solomon would be the king that David couldn’t, and the tying up of loose ends in this chapter reinforces that aspect of their comparison. So, as the kingdom and the kings point us forward to Him who is the ultimate King that none of these could be, one great aspect of Christ’s Kingship that is proclaimed to us is His wisdom.

The King of Promise will be just. 1 Kings 2:5 highlights not revenge but justice; it tells why these two killings by Joab are considered murder. When he is executed in 1 Kings 2:28-351 Kings 2:33 underlines that this needed to be done in order separate the house of David from the guilt of the house of Joab. One of the main points of 1 Kings 2:9 is that Shimei is guilty; he must be treated as such. When Shimei is executed in 1 Kings 2:36-45, it isn’t just because he has transgressed the terms of the deal in 1 Kings 2:36-37 but for wickedness against David, the Yahweh’s anointed (1 Kings 2:44).

The King of Promise will be generous. 1 Kings 2:7 takes comparatively little ink in this chapter, but it stands out by its contrast to everything else. Surely by now, David has more than repaid the sons of Barzillai for the kindness of Barzillai from 2 Samuel 17:17–29. But part of Solomon’s kingdom being firmly established would be to continue this policy of abundant generosity. By the time things are being handed over to Rehoboam, the burdens of Solomon will have weighed heavier in the people’s minds than the blessings of Solomon; and, God’s judgment will be seen by Rehoboam being even worse (cf. 1 Kings 12:1-15). 

The King of Promise will be shrewd. This is a subset both of the wisdom above and the manliness above, including both an emphasis upon how Solomon both saw right through Adonijah’s most recent plan (1 Kings 2:22), and an emphasis upon his resolve to deal with it (1 Kings 2:23-24). Bathsheba did not understand what Adonijah was hatching (1 Kings 2:20). And Solomon knew that if he had hatched this, then Joab and Abiathar were in on it too (1 Kings 2:22). 

The wicked are both devious and determined, and a man—and especially a king—must be one  who is not easily taken in and also has the fortitude to do what is right and needful, be it ever so uncomfortable, unpopular, or difficult. Christ sees through all. He knows what is in the heart of man (cf. John 2:25). And He resolutely does all right things.

The King of Promise will be discriminating and merciful. There is an interesting contrast here between Abiathar’s treatment (1 Kings 2:26-27) and Joab’s (1 Kings 2:28-35). It’s sloppy and easy to become very binary or simplistic in our thinking. But Solomon understands not to paint Abiathar and Joab with the same colors. He has regard for Abiathar’s former loyalty and service (1 Kings 2:26), and he knows that removal from the service of the ark and the priesthood is itself a punishment like unto death for Abiathar (1 Kings 2:27). Indeed, so great is this punishment that it is a fulfilment of God’s dreadful curse upon the house of Eli (verse 27b). 

Yet, even in this, the King was finding a way to be merciful, and he did not put Abiathar to death. How much more is Christ, our King, discriminating! Does He not know exactly how to deal with each of His subjects, in a manner exactly suited to our character and our circumstances? Let none of those subjects ever complain against a providence that has been specifically selected for them by their discriminating and merciful King!

The King of Promise will be faithful to His Word. David had to be faithful to his vow in 1 Kings 2:8. And so we know what must happen when Solomon vows in 1 Kings 2:23-24. And this is contrasted to the unfaithfulness of Shimei to his oath, highlighted in 1 Kings 2:3-4. In keeping their word, David and Solomon imitate Yahweh, Who fulfills His Word as emphasized in 1 Kings 2:4 and 1 Kings 2:24 and 1 Kings 2:27. Indeed when the forever-King, the King of Promise comes, not only is He faithful to His Word, but He is revealed as the same Lord of 1 Kings 2:4 and 1 Kings 2:24 and 1 Kings 2:27, Who is Himself the Word (cf. John 1:1–14).

The King of Promise would be manly, godly, wise, just, generous, shrewd, discriminating, merciful, and faithful to His Word. Such a King is Jesus Christ! How much those lands ache—and those households and congregations—whose leadership lack these qualities. But there is another King. And His kingdom has come. And His kingdom is still coming. And His kingdom is forever. Let all His subjects take heart, and all His enemies despair.

Of which of these characteristics of Christ did you most need to be reminded? In which do you most need to grow?

Sample prayer:  Our gracious God and heavenly Father, we thank You for being our divine King and for giving Yourself in the person of Your Son to be our King of Promise. Forgive us for when our character and conduct are so different—even opposite—Yours in the spheres of our domain; and, for when we fret over those lesser ‘kings’ who mistreat us. Even so, make us more like You and more confident in You, we ask through Christ the King, AMEN!


Tuesday, December 28, 2021

2021.12.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 13:5–6

Hebrews 13:5–6

Questions from the Scripture text: What is our conduct to be without (Hebrews 13:5)? With what are we to be content? What has God said to us? Who is our helper (Hebrews 13:6)? What will we not do? Who can do nothing, ultimately, to harm us?

Next week’s Call to Worship and Prayer for Help come from Hebrews 13:5–6 so that it will be plain that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Praise the LORD, My Soul

The preceding verses (Hebrews 13:1-4) identify whom we ought to love. But how can we go about giving ourselves for others and to others, when our selfishness keeps getting in the way? Hebrews 13:5-6 answer that the key to loving like this is a contentment that eliminates covetousness. But how can we find this contentment?

By knowing the LORD alone as our help—the great theme of Psalm 146. Men will fail us. But when the LORD Himself is our help, then our interests are safe in His love. And it is this safety that frees us to imitate Him in loving others by looking out for their interests.

Contentment and peace come by looking unto Jesus, the Forger and Finisher of our faith—to consider Him who endured such hostility against Himself. He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” When we realize that He has given Himself to us (and, therefore, has given us all other things along with Himself), we are freed from slavery to selfishness. It’s impossible for us to desire better for ourselves than Christ has already secured and is insistently giving us!

What more can we add to ourselves that we do not already have? Instead, we now have the privilege of pouring ourselves out for others and knowing that we can lose nothing in the bargain.

Of course, thinking this way doesn’t come naturally to us. So, the Holy Spirit prescribes some theological self-preaching. Like the depressed Psalmist in Psalm 42-43, the covetous believer has a little mini-sermon by which he may address his weak soul. There, it was, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? Hope now in God, for I will yet praise Him. He is my help and my God. Here, the self-preaching is similar. We are to proclaim to ourselves: “Yahweh is my helper. I will not fear. What can man do to me.”

Blessed is the one whose help is the God of Jacob (Psalm 146:5)! Yes, believers have had our name changed to ‘Israel’ (God wrestles), but we so often still act like Jacob (“heel-grabber”; “scoundrel”). God has committed Himself to us, and gets down in the muck to be our help anyway. He is the God of Jacob.

Since this is the case, let us continually put ourselves in mind of the fact that He refuses to leave us or forsake us. The more we learn to live before the face of God, the less we will indulge discontentment or covetousness!

When do you tend to be discontent? How will you remind yourself of Christ at these times? What does your “self-preaching” life look like these days? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, You are our Help. You have given us Yourself and every good thing. Forgive us for that selfishness that shows we have so lightly valued Your gift to us of Yourself. How wicked! And yet, You have redeemed us by Your own blood. So cleanse us from this unrighteousness, we ask in Your Name, AMEN!


Monday, December 27, 2021

2021.12.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 1:67–79

Read Luke 1:67–79

Questions from the Scripture text: Who was singing this song (Luke 1:67) to whom (Luke 1:63)? What was the Lord God of Israel doing at this time (Luke 1:68)? What was He raising up (Luke 1:69)? How long has God been speaking through His prophets (Luke 1:70)? What has God been promising since the world began (Luke 1:71)? What was promised to the fathers (Luke 1:72)? According to His promise, why was He saving us from our enemies (Luke 1:74? What does Luke 1:75 present as the two main parts of serving God? What did Zacharias tell his baby son that he would be called, in Luke 1:76? Before whom would John go (verse 76b)? What would he be preaching that Jesus will do when He comes (Luke 1:77)? What would the sunrise from God (Luke 1:78) do for those who are in darkness and death (Luke 1:79)? 

The amazing statements of this passage are made to John the Baptizer by his daddy when he is just eight days old and being circumcised.

From the beginning of creation, God has been a speaking, promising, saving God. The promise of salvation from the hand of that great enemy who hates us first came in Genesis 3:15, and this passage tells us that there were no ages before that. Throughout the ages, God has been this covenant-making, covenant-keeping God!

And His purpose for us is to respond to Him in love and gratitude. The salvation that Luke 1:71 promises has a purpose, about which Luke 1:74 tells us: that we might serve the Lord God without fear. That we might know that He is for us, that He has loved us, that He has saved us… and therefore we would not be afraid of anything else, but live our entire lives as service to Him!

What does that service look like? What great feats of spiritual strength, or mission field victories, or mind-boggling sacrifices make up this service?! Simply this: to live a holy and righteous life before Him, day in and day out (Luke 1:75). That’s not particularly glamorous before the eyes of men, but it is glorious before the eyes of God!

First things first, though. We don’t even deserve to be able to live such holy lives! That’s John’s big announcement, later in his public ministry: “I baptize you with water that says that you need cleansing from sin, but Jesus is going to come and baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is going to give you real spiritual life to believe in Him, and He is going to suffer the fire of Hell on the cross so that when you believe into Him, you will know that your sins were cleansed there! At the cross! (cf. Matthew 3:1–12)”

The cross is where the sunrise of life bursts through our darkness and death: God, in His tender mercy, has given Himself to be punished for our sin and to be our life. Hallelujah!

What are your daily activities? What does it look like for that to be done “in service to God”? Why don’t you deserve to be able to do that? What has Jesus done about what you deserve? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, we praise You for making Your light and life to rise upon us in the Lord Jesus Christ. Forgive us for when we backslide into the darkness of living for ourselves, and grant that Your Spirit would keep making us like Jesus, so that we would shine with His own light, which we ask in His Name, AMEN!


Saturday, December 25, 2021

Marveling at God's Faithful, Powerful, Loving Salvation in Christ (Family Worship lesson in Luke 1:57–80)

At what do the neighbors marvel, and at what does Spirit-filled Zacharias marvel? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Luke 1:57–80 prepares us for the sermon in Morning Public Worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twenty-four verses, the Holy Spirit teaches us to marvel at our God’s faithfulness in making and keeping promises of salvation, power in reversing all of the work of the enemy, and tender love in saving us by coming Himself and taking us for Himself.
(click here to DOWNLOAD mp3/pdf files of this lesson)

2021.12.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 1:57–80

Read Luke 1:57–80

Questions from the Scripture text: What time came in Luke 1:57? How did her neighbors and family respond (Luke 1:58)? What day does Luke 1:59 describe, and what was happening? What were they going to call him? What did Elizabeth call him instead (Luke 1:60)? Why was this strange to the guests (Luke 1:61)? Whom did they expect to overrule (Luke 1:62)? What name did he choose (Luke 1:63)? What happened to him at that point (Luke 1:64)? What was the response of not just the guests but the surrounding region (Luke 1:65-66)? What happens to Zacharias to shape his words for his first speech since having his voice restored (Luke 1:67)? For what event is Zacharias praising God (Luke 1:68-71)? What does he say that God is fulfilling (Luke 1:72-73)? What is God’s purpose in this salvation (Luke 1:74-75)? What part will Zacharias’s child have (Luke 1:76)? What would the Lord do, for Whom John would prepare the way, for His people (Luke 1:77-79)? What did God do for child John—and where (Luke 1:80)?

We tend to be amazed by unusual things. It’s the spectacular that impresses us. So, baby John’s family and neighbors were abuzz with the news of his strange name (Luke 1:61) and his dad’s muteness and prophecy (Luke 1:64).

That actual prophecy, though, focuses upon Someone Else altogether. Baby John’s significance is as a go-before (Luke 1:76b). It’s a great honor to be His herald, to give knowledge of what He does (verse 76a, Luke 1:77). But it is not John who does it. Jesus is the great One, and someone who responds to John rightly will be impressed rather little with John and rather much with the One whom John proclaims.

John is still teaching this some 30 years later, when his disciples wish people would be more impressed with him, and he is teaching all of us, “[Christ] must increase, and [we] must decrease” (John 3:22-36). 

But it is Jesus who saves us from those great enemies who keep us from “serving Him boldly in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life” (Luke 1:74-75). Jesus atones for our sin, negates death’s and Hell’s claims upon us, and turns all the attacks of the devil upon themselves.

It is Jesus who visits us, in the tender mercy of God, and drives away our darkness and death by His light and life (Luke 1:78-79). 

Like John, we too must desire that it would be Jesus who gets all the glory of our life. And, especially when we desire for others to be guided into the way of peace, it must be Jesus Whom we present and Jesus Whom we praise. Yes, what He has done for us or how He has used us are interesting and notable mercies. But the good news is not news about us. It’s news about Jesus!

What spiritual people/circumstances most easily catch your attention? How can you redirect this attention back to Jesus Himself and what He has done? Whom have you been telling about Christianity? How much has that telling focused upon Jesus? 

Sample prayer:  O Lord, we thank You for giving us the privilege and honor of bringing glory to Christ. Truly, His salvation is marvelous. So forgive us when the change in us is small, or when we fail to give Him all the praise for it. Glorify Christ by continuing to conform us to His perfect light, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP45A “My Heart Is Greatly Stirred” or TPH438 “I Love to Tell the Story” 


Friday, December 24, 2021

2021.12.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 10:21–29

Read Exodus 10:21–29

Questions from the Scripture text: Toward where does Yahweh now command Moses to stretch out his hand (Exodus 10:21)? In order to bring what? What will they be able to do with this darkness? What did Moses do (Exodus 10:22a)? What came on the land for how long (verse 22b)? What couldn’t they see (Exodus 10:23a)? What couldn’t they do (verse 23b)? But who had what (verse 23c)? Whom did Pharaoh now call (Exodus 10:24)? What did he tell him to do? But what did he order to be kept back? Whom did he say should go? But who commands whom in Exodus 10:25a? To do what for what purpose (verse 25b)? What was to go with them (Exodus 10:26)? What would be left behind? Why? But what did Yahweh do to Pharaoh in Exodus 10:27? And what wouldn’t Pharaoh do? Where does he tell Moses to go (Exodus 10:28)? What does he warn Moses not to see? What does he threaten? What does Moses say about this in Exodus 10:29?

The world is full of people who receive good things from God, but give the credit to something or someone else—or even take it for themselves. Of the many false gods that Egypt worshiped, Amon-Ra (the sun himself) was considered to be chief. In this plague, however, Yahweh utterly humiliates their so-called god.

According to their thought, every evening Amon-Ra would die in the west and then in the morning rise again in the east. So this plague wasn’t just an inability to see, but the death of their chief deity. The previous plagues had come with Moses stretching his hand over the land; the attack on their god is demonstrated by the fact that he now stretches his hand toward heaven. The darkness is not only complete but intense: it can be felt. In Exodus 10:22, “thick darkness” is actually translating two different words for ‘darkness’ which compound each other. Even worse, candles and lamps are unable to provide light in their homes (Exodus 10:23a), although they function just fine in Israelite homes (verse 23b).

Truly, without the LORD, even the light of a candle cannot break into darkness. He is the One Who gives all good. Against Him Pharaoh had set himself. And, dreadfully, it is against Him that every one of our sins set themselves.

That which was true physically in Egypt is now seen to be true spiritually in Pharaoh’s heart. Pharaoh is obviously shaken by the devastating death of Amon-Ra, but in Exodus 10:24 he still wants to insist on keeping back the flocks and herds. Moses tells him not only that every Israelite hoof must go (Exodus 10:26), but that Pharaoh himself must provide additional sacrifice and burnt offering (Exodus 10:25). Yahweh is his true God, whether Pharaoh acknowledges him or not. Moses makes it plain that Yahweh is in charge, and whatever He commands for worship, He must receive.

But even with all of this humiliation and all of this rebuke and warning, Pharaoh is unable to submit his heart to the LORD. When Yahweh hardens his heart in Exodus 10:27, it is hardened not in the shape of repentance (which is like light that Pharaoh can never produce for himself) but rather in the shape of rebellion. Even his choice of words is ironic, showing how blind he is to his own wickedness and helplessness. “Don’t see my face again,” Pharaoh says. “You have spoken well; I will never see your face again,” Moses says. Pharaoh’s face, of course, cannot be seen because his precious chief deity has been slain and cannot give light. This final exchange indicates that before the darkness lifts, Moses and Israel will be gone.

O, let us confess that all our good comes from the Lord—the good of creation, and the only hope that we have of any repentance. Only He gives either sort of light. And though we deserve to die in darkness, He has been merciful to sinners and offers Himself to be our light in Jesus Christ. How merciful is this display of His glorious power!

Where do people think life and strength and ability come from? But from where does it really come? What life/ability do you most need?

Sample prayer:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, You alone are the true and living God. From You alone comes all true physical light and spiritual light. Forgive us for when we are forgetful of You or feel ourselves dependent instead upon created things instead of You, the Creator. Give light to our hearts, that we would be willing worshipers in every way that You require. And glorify Yourself in destroying all false gods, which we ask through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH539 “Am I a Soldier of the Cross”

Thursday, December 23, 2021

When Christ the Sunrise Has Risen upon You and Transformed You into Light (2021.12.23 Family Worship lesson in Ephesians 5:8–14)

How should believers respond, when their new life in Christ makes an uncomfortable contrast with those around them? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Ephesians 5:8–14 prepares us for the second reading in Morning Public Worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these seven verses, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the LORD hasn’t just brought us from darkness into light but transformed us from being darkness into being light. This makes for tension with those who are still darkness, so let us seek what is acceptable to the Lord Who is our Life, and find increasingly comfortable our increasing fellowship with Him. Then we will not be distressed by the tension that exposes the darkness around us and will increasingly hope that He uses us to increase His light in the world.
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2021.12.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 5:8–14

Read Ephesians 5:8–14

Questions from the Scripture text: What were the Ephesians before (Ephesians 5:8)? What are they now? How should they walk? In what three things is the fruit of the Spirit (Ephesians 5:9)? What are they to find out (Ephesians 5:10)? With what are they not to have fellowship (Ephesians 5:11a)? What should their conduct do instead (verse 11b)? What is shameful even to speak of (Ephesians 5:12)? What does the light do to those things (Ephesians 5:13)? What two things are we commanded to do by the light of Christ in Ephesians 5:14?

Up to this point in Ephesians, the apostle has been teaching that Christ’s salvation is a life-transforming salvation. Believers are a new creation (Ephesians 2:10), with a new calling (Ephesians 4:1), and a new character (Ephesians 5:1). 

The contrast between the old and the new is put quite starkly in Ephesians 5:8—not just that we were once in darkness, but that we ourselves were darkness. Not just that we have come into the light, but that we ourselves are now light. 

When he tells us to walk as children of light, He is picking up on the fact that the God of Whom we are beloved children (Ephesians 5:1) is the God Who is light, and in Whom there is no darkness at all (cf. 1 John 1:5). “Now that you are light,” says the apostle, “keep making step by step in your forward progress as lightlings.”

So, what does a “light-ling” look like as he walks? He’s fruitful (Ephesians 5:9a). The Spirit of God, the Spirit Who is producing light in us, bears fruit in us: all goodness, righteousness, and truth (verse 9b). The fruit of consistency with God’s character (goodness), God’s standards (righteousness), and God’s Word (truth). These are the kinds of things that we should determinedly discover, constantly “finding out whatever is acceptable [pleasing to] the Lord” (Ephesians 5:10).

Lightlings do works (Ephesians 2:10) that are fruit of the Spirit’s light in them. But those who are still darkness do works that have none of this fruit in them at all—unfruitful works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11). Everything that we do is either a fruit of light, or else it is an unfruitful work of darkness. So, when lightlings and darklings come across one another, the fruitlessness of the darkness is exposed by the fruitfulness of the light. 

This is an uncomfortable thing for those who are darkness. It’s hard to be someone in whom the miracle of new creation has not taken place, when everyone around you is popping out light-fruit. The temptation for those who are lightlings is to “tone it down” to make it easier for the darkness to be around them. 

But to tone it down is to stifle the fruit, to hide the light, and even to have some share in the darkness continuing to be unfruitful. Are we really willing to have a share in the kind of thing that it is even shameful to speak about (Ephesians 5:12)?  Or, would we prefer to have a share in that exposing of darkness that Jesus uses to actually turn darkness into light (Ephesians 5:13)? 

Christ is that awakening, resurrecting, shining light described in Isaiah 51:17, Isaiah 52:1, Isaiah 60:1–3; Luke 1:75, Luke 1:78–79. And when He saves us, He turns us into light-lings that expose others as darkness Whom He may save and transform into light. 

So, don’t shrink back from bearing that light-fruit and the discomfort that can come to the darkness when it is exposed. Instead, since He has transformed you into light, SHINE!

Around whom are you embarrassed to shine by walking in goodness and righteousness and truth? Whom should you seek to please when around those people? How is this actually good for those people? 

Sample prayer:  Blessed are You, Lord God of Israel, for You have visited and redeemed Your people. You have fulfilled Your promise to save us so that we might serve You without fear, in holiness and righteousness before You all the days of our life. Through Your tender mercy, O God, You have made Your sunrise to shine upon us and given us light so that we might be light. Forgive us for when we slide back into living as if we are darkness, and grant that Your Spirit would persist with us until You have shaped us completely according to Your marvelous light in Jesus Christ, through Whom we ask it, AMEN!

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


Wednesday, December 22, 2021

The Proper Purpose of Things (2021.12.21 Family Worship lesson in "The Proverb of the Day")

Pastor leads his family in a selection from "the Proverb of the day." In this verse of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that those whose hearts are closed to the poor have the ears of God closed to their prayers. Pastor teaches his children why this is so: believers have been brought to God to know that their own purpose, and the purpose of all that they have, is the service and enjoyment of God Himself. Since Christ Himself in our place is the only reason our prayers can be favorably heard, if we bear symptoms of being outside of Christ, we should expect that our prayers are not favorably heard—however much God's providence might correspond to what we wanted.
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2021.12.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 12:1–3

Read Genesis 12:1–3

Questions from the Scripture text: Who is speaking to whom in Genesis 12:1? From where does He tell Abram to leave? Whom does He tell him to leave? What does He tell him to leave? To where does He tell him to go? Into what does Yahweh promise to make him (Genesis 12:2)? What does He promise to do to him? What does He promise to do to Abram’s name? What does He promise to do through Abram? Whom does Yahweh promise to bless (Genesis 12:3)? Whom does He promise to curse? Which families of the earth will find their blessing in him?

This blessing is an extraordinary explosion of grace. There is no evident reason for God’s choosing to show it. As we know from Joshua 24, Terah and Abram and Nahor were idolaters in Ur of the Chaldeans (cf. Genesis 11:27–32). In fact, the only distinguishing characteristic of Abram so far is that he hasn’t “begotten” anybody. Everyone else has, but Abram’s wife is barren (cf. Genesis 11:30).

Well, Abram’s qualifications may be small—non-existent, really. But the promise itself is massive. This is the God of the Bible: the One Who makes and keeps great promises by His goodness and strength, to and through those who are wicked and weak. 

And this promise is a doozy. It’s one thing to have a promise that starts out with making Abram  into a great nation (Genesis 12:2a). It’s a whole other level to go on to promise that he will be the one through whom all the families of the earth will find their blessing (Genesis 12:2d, Genesis 12:3c).

Right alongside the gracious promise is also a reminder that God is selective. For, it’s not every last member of every family on earth that will be blessed. Genesis 12:3b plainly says that some will be cursed. In fact, up to this very day in history, the vast majority have fallen  into the “cursed” category. For, they have indeed rejected great Abram’s greater Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Many, indeed, of Abram’s own descendants according to the flesh have done so. That’s not new. The apostle wrestled with that reality in Romans 9-11.

So, God’s unmerited, totally gracious, totally free election is on spectacular display in bringing only some to faith in Jesus And, this same unmerited, gracious, freely electing love is on spectacular display in choosing Abram to be the one through whom the Lord brings Jesus into the world.

But what is it to which they (and we, if we are believers) have been elected? Primarily to lose everything else in the world, in order to have the Lord Himself. To count the Lord as more than everything else put together. 

Abram is told to leave country (Genesis 12:1b). To leave family (verse 1c). To leave the established foundation and heritage of his father’s house (v1d). To lose his inheritance. To go where? “The land that I will show you” (verse 1e). That’s not even a place! It’s not so much a destination as it is a location in the presence of the Person Who is doing the showing. 

Of course, the promises include regaining what is lost many times over, but those things are not to be immediately obtained. At first, all Abram will have is the Lord Himself. Seek first the kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. That’s what He was called to then. That’s what believers have been called to ever since. That’s what you are called to now. And you are called to do it by the grace of God, Who provides all of the goodness and all of the strength in Himself.

What have you lost for Christ? What have you gained? Whose idea was this to begin with?

Sample prayer:  Lord, You are everything to us. You have created us for Yourself and redeemed us for Yourself. Yet, many times we have clung overtightly to father and mother and brother and sister and houses and lands. Forgive us for treasuring you too little, and stir up our knowledge of You by Your Spirit, which we ask through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP181 “God Our Only Good” or TPH234 “The God of Abram Praise”


Tuesday, December 21, 2021

God's Gift of Delight in Himself (2021.12.22 Family Worship lesson in Isaiah 58:13–14)

How can those who find themselves enjoying created things more than the Creator be trained to delight in Him? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Isaiah 58:13–14 prepares us for the opening portion of Morning Public Worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these two verses, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the LORD has given His holy day as a gift by which He trains our hearts to delight in Him Himself above all. He reserves for Himself the honor of making a day holy or making a day honorable; and, He reserves for Himself the prerogative of deciding what we should find enjoyable on that day; because, He alone has the ability to train our hearts to delight in Him. And this enjoyment of Him is the greatest gift any of us can ever receive—which we gift we reject if we dishonor Him by altering His design for the day or coming up with our own religious days.
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2021.12.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 58:13–14

Read Isaiah 58:13–14

Questions from the Scripture text: From what were they to turn their feet on the Sabbath (Isaiah 58:13)? Whose day is it? What were they to call a delight? What were they to call honorable? Whom do we honor when we delight in the Sabbath? Whose ways are they not to do on the Sabbath? Whose pleasure are they not to find on the Sabbath? Whose words are they not to speak on the Sabbath? What (whom!) does Isaiah 58:14 say that this kind of Sabbath-keeping will make them delight in? Upon what will this Sabbath keeping make us to ride? Upon whose heritage will this kind of Sabbath-keeping make us to feed?

In this passage, we hear about God’s solution for hearts that tend to view His law as a burden (like those in Isaiah 58:1-12). His Sabbath. So… God’s remedy for our bad attitudes about His commandments is… the 4th commandment?

Immediately, we can see that following this remedy is going to require faith. It requires a decision to rely upon what God’s Word says instead of what I feel. It requires a commitment to treat my own wisdom as folly and follow the Physician’s advice instead of what I think I know.

So, it doesn’t surprise us that this commandment is at first about submission: “turn your foot away from doing your pleasure!” Does your heart resent that idea? We need to yield to the fact that when we do God’s pleasure instead of ours, we find out that He is better at making us glad than we are. He cares more for our happiness than we do. He knows better how to give it to us than we do. Am I willing to admit that? If so, all my complaints against the commandments in this verse will evaporate.

Turn away from my own pleasure? Does God want me to be miserable every Sunday? On the contrary! That was just the first command. And the second is like it: call the Sabbath a delight. God’s command isn’t about no pleasure; it’s about substituting a superior pleasure. In other words: you don’t know what delight is. God designed many pleasant things for us. But He did not design us for those things. He designed us for Himself. For us who are made in His image, there is a greater delight than can be found in any creature. That delight is delight in the Creator.

Now, here comes the part that requires the greatest humility. We have to admit that we simply don’t enjoy God like we should. The greatest commandment is to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, but as soon as we are told to spend an entire day with Him, we begin proposing all of the alternative things that we might prefer. Our chief end is to enjoy Him forever, but we have an entire list of things that—when push comes to shove—our heart of hearts finds more joy in. But He uses this day to train our hearts: “then you shall delight yourself in Yahweh.”

It’s the Lord who made those things for us. But He made us for Himself. Jesus knew this and felt this and lived this. If we trust in Him, we have the glorious promise that His obedience is counted for us as if we had done it. And, if we trust in Him, we have another glorious promise: that when we see Him, we shall be like Him. Don’t you want that? Don’t you want to delight in God Himself more than in any of His gifts? He will surely do it. Here’s what He uses though: set apart the Lord’s Day as holy!

Who cares most for your joy? What are some evidences of that? What is the biggest one?

Sample prayer:  O glorious and ever-blessed God, Who have made us for Yourself and redeemed us for Yourself, forgive us for when we insist upon rejoicing more in created things than in You, Our Creator. Bless unto us Your day, week by week, and use it to train our hearts in the pleasures of heaven, for we ask it in Your Name, Who are Yourself the very heavenliness of heaven, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP118D “Now Open Wide the Gates” or TPH153 “O Day of Rest and Gladness”


Monday, December 20, 2021

2021.12.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 24:44–53

Read Luke 24:44–53

Questions from the Scripture text: What had Jesus spoken to them, and when (Luke 24:44)? Where were there words concerning Him? How many of them had to be fulfilled? What did He do to them (Luke 24:45a)? For what purpose (verse 45b)? What was written and necessary (Luke 24:46)? What must be preached (Luke 24:47)? In what? To whom? Beginning where? What role do the disciples have in this (Luke 24:48)? Who sends the Spirit (Luke 24:49)? What is the Spirit called in verse 49? What are they to do? Until when? Where does He lead them (Luke 24:50)? What does He do there? What happened while He was still blessing them (Luke 24:51)? What did they do (Luke 24:52a)? Where did they go (verse 52b)? With what attitude? Where were they (Luke 24:53)? When? Doing what?

It may be surprising to us that the Lord Jesus apparently doesn’t teach the apostles anything new at this point. Rather, He reminds them of what He had said before (Luke 24:44a) and leaves them to those words, the words of the Old Testament Scriptures (verse 44b), and the coming ministry of the Spirit (Luke 24:49a).

What they needed wasn’t more information but rather more understanding of the information that they had. And this the Lord Jesus gave them in a marvelous gift: “He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” What a glorious gift! Here is the thing to ask for the Lord. As helpful as commentaries and devotionals can be, they are not ultimately what we need. For, it is the Bible itself that the Lord has given us by which to work in us. And it is especially the Word preached by which He gives faith and grows faith. 

What we need, then, is Him Himself. We need Him to open our understanding. And this is what He would send the disciples to do: preach repentance and forgiveness in the Name of Christ (Luke 24:47a) as the witnesses (Luke 24:48) of all that the Scriptures teach about Christ’s death and resurrection (Luke 24:46). 

We see how completely this depends upon the work of God Himself by the command for them to tarry in the city of Jerusalem (Luke 24:49b). Tarry? Wait?! Didn’t He just finish saying that this preaching must go to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:47b)?! But it isn’t just preaching that people need. It is the power of God attending that preaching. The power of the Holy Spirit, “the Promise of My Father,” was absolutely necessary. There would be no point in preaching without it.

But He had just exercised that power upon them. They had come to understand about His death and resurrection from all the Old Testament. So, when He has blessed them and departed (Luke 24:50-51), they immediately begin acting upon what they have come to know. He is gone from their sight, but still they worship Him, for they know that He is God the Son, Who is rightly to be worshiped (Luke 24:52a). They return to Jerusalem with great joy (verse 52b), knowing both that they have been redeemed and that this was exactly where He had commanded them to wait. And they go continually to the temple, praising and blessing God (Luke 24:53); it is no longer the dangerous home turf of their enemies, but that structure that God had designed to point to Christ!

How do you recognize your need for God’s powerful working in your Bible-reading and sermon-hearing? How are you responding to the fact that Jesus is God and that His redemptive work has been accomplished?

Sample prayer:  Lord Jesus, we worship You Who are very God of very God. Forgive us for our dullness toward You, even in Your Word. Open our understanding, so that we would comprehend the Scriptures, so that our lives would be full of worshiping You and rejoicing in You, which we ask in Your Name, AMEN!

 Suggested songs: ARP99A “Let the Nations Tremble” or TPH356 “Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain”

 

Sunday, December 19, 2021

God's Determination to Make Us Know Him (2021.12.19 Evening Sermon in Exodus 10:1–20)

God's purpose for Israel's prolonged persecution was that they might know Him and tell their children of His great salvation. So also, for believers, in all our prolonged troubles the Lord is making us more to know Him and to tell our children His greatness and the greatness of His salvation.
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The Sure Spread of the Gospel (2021.12.19 Morning Sermon in Luke 24:44–53)


The Lord Jesus is invincibly applying His redemption to all for whom He died.

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Good Works Not Meritorious but Rewarded (2021.12.19 Sabbath School on WCF 16.5–6)

Good works cannot be meritorious, but they are done in Christ, and rewarded for His own worthiness.
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Saturday, December 18, 2021

2021.12.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 24:44–53

Read Luke 24:44–53

Questions from the Scripture text: What had Jesus spoken to them, and when (Luke 24:44)? Where were there words concerning Him? How many of them had to be fulfilled? What did He do to them (Luke 24:45a)? For what purpose (verse 45b)? What was written and necessary (Luke 24:46)? What must be preached (Luke 24:47)? In what? To whom? Beginning where? What role do the disciples have in this (Luke 24:48)? Who sends the Spirit (Luke 24:49)? What is the Spirit called in verse 49? What are they to do? Until when? Where does He lead them (Luke 24:50)? What does He do there? What happened while He was still blessing them (Luke 24:51)? What did they do (Luke 24:52a)? Where did they go (verse 52b)? With what attitude? Where were they (Luke 24:53)? When? Doing what? 

It may be surprising to us that the Lord Jesus apparently doesn’t teach the apostles anything new at this point. Rather, He reminds them of what He had said before (Luke 24:44a) and leaves them to those words, the words of the Old Testament Scriptures (verse 44b), and the coming ministry of the Spirit (Luke 24:49a).

What they needed wasn’t more information but rather more understanding of the information that they had. And this the Lord Jesus gave them in a marvelous gift: “He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.”

What a glorious gift! Here is the thing to ask for the Lord. As helpful as commentaries and devotionals can be, they are not ultimately what we need. For, it is the Bible itself that the Lord has given us by which to work in us. And it is especially the Word preached by which He gives faith and grows faith. 

What we need, then, is Him Himself. We need Him to open our understanding.

And this is what He would send the disciples to do: preach repentance and forgiveness in the Name of Christ (Luke 24:47a) as the witnesses (Luke 24:48) of all that the Scriptures teach about Christ’s death and resurrection (Luke 24:46). 

We see how completely this depends upon the work of God Himself by the command for them to tarry in the city of Jerusalem (Luke 24:49b). Tarry? Wait?! Didn’t He just finish saying that this preaching must go to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:47b)?!

But it isn’t just preaching that people need. It is the power of God attending that preaching. The power of the Holy Spirit, “the Promise of My Father,” was absolutely necessary. There would be no point in preaching without it.

But He had just exercised that power upon them. They had come to understand about His death and resurrection from all the Old Testament. So, when He has blessed them and departed (Luke 24:50-51), they immediately begin acting upon what they have com to know. He is gone from their sight, but still they worship Him, for they know that He is God the Son, Who is rightly to be worshiped (Luke 24:52a). They return to Jerusalem with great joy (verse 52b), knowing both that they have been redeemed and that this was exactly where He had commanded them to wait. And they go continually to the temple, praising and blessing God (Luke 24:53); it is no longer the dangerous home turf of their enemies, but that structure that God had designed to point to Christ!

How do you recognize/express your need for God’s powerful working in your Bible-reading and sermon-hearing? How are you responding to the fact that Jesus is God and that His redemptive work has been accomplished?

Sample prayer:  Lord Jesus, we worship You Who are very God of very God. Forgive us for our dullness toward You, even in Your Word. Open our understanding, so that we would comprehend the Scriptures, so that our lives would be full of worshiping You and rejoicing in You, which we ask in Your Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP99A “Let the Nations Tremble” or TPH356 “Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain”


Friday, December 17, 2021

2021.12.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Corinthians 15:50-58

Read 1 Corinthians 15:50-58

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Paul call them in 1 Corinthians 15:50? What cannot inherit the kingdom of God? What kind of flesh cannot inherit an incorruptible creation? What hidden truth does the apostle now reveal (1 Corinthians 15:51)? What shall we not all do? But what shall we all do? How long does this change take (1 Corinthians 15:52)? When? What must corruptible flesh put on instead (1 Corinthians 15:53)? What must mortal flesh put on instead? What will this transformation bring to pass (1 Corinthians 15:54)? What does death no longer have (1 Corinthians 15:55)? What does Hades, the grave, no longer have? What is the sting of death (1 Corinthians 15:56)? What especially empowers sin to hurt us in death? Who has done something about this (1 Corinthians 15:57)? What does God give us? Through whom? What work is a display of this victory in our lives (1 Corinthians 15:58)? What does the apostle call them now? What does he command them to be? What do we know that our labor is not? In Whom is our labor not vain?

In this passage, we learn a strong connection between our hope at being raised bodily from the dead and our daily lives now in this world.

First, this hope is for every believer. It is something that we are so united in that not only will each of us surely be raised physically from the dead, but we will all be transformed at the same time. And we will all be raised and transformed in the very same moment, in the very same twinkle of an eye!

Second, this hope is a great hope. It robs death of its sting. It robs Hades of its victory.

Third, this hope is a merciful hope. The entire reason that death is so horrible, and that sin is so culpable, is that we deserve death for having broken God’s law.

Fourth, this hope is righteous hope. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, God has given us victory over sin, without violating but rather by keeping the righteous requirement of the law (that we be punished for breaking it!)

Fifth, this hope is an effective hope. Sin can longer have us. Death can no longer keep us. Now, we belong to the Lord. And, so, the point of the work that we do now is not so much that it lasts forever, but rather that it is in the Lord Himself, that it is a display of His victory. Your labor is not in vain in the Lord!

Whatever it is that we do as believers, let us do it always as those who do not belong to ourselves, those over whom sin is no longer master, those who no longer operate in fear of death—let us live every moment as those who belong to the Lord!

What part of your life feels most like it is “in vain”? How does this passage help?

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH338 “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”


Thursday, December 16, 2021

Pleading the Difference Grace Makes (2021.12.15 Prayer Meeting lesson in Psalm 35:11–16)

The God Who loves us to forgive us and produce His character in us will vindicate that love for us and that godly character in us by turning our mourning into joy and avenging us.
(click here to DOWNLOAD mp3/pdf files of this sermon)

2021.12.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Corinthians 15:35-49

Read 1 Corinthians 15:35-49

Questions from the Scripture text: What question does the apostle suggest that someone will ask in 1 Corinthians 15:35? What does the apostle call this person in 1 Corinthians 15:36? What must happen to what is planted, in order for it to be made alive? How does the resulting plant compare to what was put in the ground (1 Corinthians 15:37-41)? To what event does 1 Corinthians 15:42 compare a particular plant being produced by a particular seed? What kind of body is put into the ground? What kind of body comes out of it—what four things do 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 say about the body that is put into the ground? What four things do those verses say about the body that comes out? What did the first Adam become (1 Corinthians 15:45)? What did the last Adam become? From where was the first Adam (1 Corinthians 15:47)? From where is the last Adam? Who is the pattern for what happens to those who are in the first Adam (1 Corinthians 15:48)? Who is the pattern for what happens to those who are in the last Adam? Whose physical image have we borne (1 Corinthians 15:49a)? Whose physical image shall we bear (verse 49b)?

In this passage, we begin with a question that implies an objection that could have been reasonable. “With what body?...” implies the objection, “Have you seen my body, and what happens to it after death? I don’t want that body back!!!” 

Of course not. That zombie stuff is literally what horror stories are made of. But, as the apostle says, it is a foolish objection. For the decline, death, and decay of our bodies all belong to the first Adam. It is what we deserve in him. It is what happened to him. It is what will happen to everyone who is in him. But he is not the pattern for us who believe in Christ!!

No, Christ is the pattern for us. And what happened with Christ? A corruptible, dishonored, weak, natural body went into the tomb. An incorruptible, glorious, powerful body that belongs to a world that is yet to come came out of the tomb.

And it is precisely the fact that we do decline and die and decay that should convince us that our resurrection bodies will be made just like Christ’s. For, if this principle of being physically conformed to our covenant head is what causes our current difficulty in the first Adam, then we are living proof that the principle is valid. Now, let us apply the principle to the last Adam: What has happened to Christ’s body as our covenant Head will happen also to us for His sake! Hallelujah!

With what kind of body will you be raised? Why? What will you experience in it?

Suggested songs: ARP16B “I’ll Bless the Lord” or TPH358 “Sing, Choirs of New Jerusalem”


Wednesday, December 15, 2021

2021.12.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Corinthians 15:20-34

Read 1 Corinthians 15:20-34

Questions from the Scripture text: What has Christ done (1 Corinthians 15:20a)? Who became the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep? What came by a man (1 Corinthians 15:21a)? What else came by a man (verse 21b)? What do all who are in Adam do (1 Corinthians 15:22a)? What happens to all who are in Christ (verse 22b)? When is the resurrection of those who are Christ’s (1 Corinthians 15:23)? What comes then (1 Corinthians 15:24)? To whom does Christ deliver the kingdom? What will Jesus do to all other authorities? What will be the last enemy to be defeated (1 Corinthians 15:26)? Who is putting all things under Jesus’s feet (1 Corinthians 15:27)? Who, then, is not put under Jesus’s feet? To whom will Jesus be subject (1 Corinthians 15:28)? By even what people was the resurrection of the dead believed (1 Corinthians 15:29)? And what were the apostles willing to do because of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:30)? What did Paul say that he did daily (1 Corinthians 15:31)? What would he do, if the dead are not raised (1 Corinthians 15:32)? What should we be careful not to do with others who think like this (1 Corinthians 15:33)? Whom should we know and think about instead (1 Corinthians 15:34)?

In this passage, Paul makes the final argument for the resurrection: this is how it must all end! God must win at the last (1 Corinthians 15:28). 

The problem is that the first Adam sinned, and in him all died. The fact that we received spiritual death from him is an indisputable fact. We try to hide from it, but every one of us who is honest with ourselves find that it is true that our hearts are deceitful above all things (unknowable) and desperately wicked (unfixable). 

How does this go with the fact that God must win at the last? There is another Adam, the last Adam—Christ. Since by a man came death, by a man resurrection had to come. 

But when? Well, there are more things wrong with the world than just that we are spiritually dead. This sin and death has infected all authority, so that all has to be brought back under Christ’s feet. And even then, there is one more enemy to be defeated: death itself.

Christ’s mission to save us isn’t about us. It’s about God. God is displaying both His love and His power, and at the last He shall reign!

So the resurrection is sure. The question for you and me is, what difference does it make? Well, if you’re into false religion, you baptize for the dead—and how sad would it be if believers were less confident in the resurrection than such cults (1 Corinthians 15:29)?

But the apostle sets us the true example. Be willing to risk much for the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:30). Stop living for this life, and live for eternity instead (1 Corinthians 15:31). Do battle with all that opposes Christ (1 Corinthians 15:32a). Watch out for living for the flesh (verse 32b). Refuse to have as your companions those who live for this life (1 Corinthians 15:33). And have instead, as your constant companion the Lord Himself (1 Corinthians 15:34).

Are you living like someone whose hope is to enjoy yourself as much as possible for as long as possible? Or like someone who knows that you will rise from the dead unto everlasting joy? 

Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH539 “Am I a Soldier of the Cross”


Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Born into a Living Hope in Christ (2021.12.12 Morning Sermon in 1Peter 1:1–12)


Because our hope is in a resurrected, ascended, returning Christ, it cannot be lost or reduced.


(click here to DOWNLOAD video/mp3/pdf files of this sermon)

2021.12.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Corinthians 15:12-19

Read 1 Corinthians 15:12-19

Questions from the Scripture text: What were some of the Corinthians saying (1 Corinthians 15:12)? But who is preached, that He has been raised from the dead? If there was no resurrection from the dead, then Who would not be risen (1 Corinthians 15:13, repeated in 1 Corinthians 15:16!)? What two things does 1 Corinthians 15:14 say become empty if Christ is not risen (verse 14)? And against whom have the apostles borne false witness, if the dead do not rise (1 Corinthians 15:15)? Again, if Christ is not risen, what 1 Corinthians 15:16 say about our faith? What are we still in, if Christ is not risen (1 Corinthians 15:17)? If Christ is not risen then what happens to all who fall asleep in Him (1 Corinthians 15:18)? What is true about us, if in this life only we have hope in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:19)?

In this passage, we learn yet another shocking error to which some of the Corinthian church was holding. Some of them did not even believe that we would be resurrected from the dead!

Apparently, they thought that they could believe that Jesus was a special case—that He could be raised from the dead, even though no one else can. In our short text, the apostle directly corrects this not once but twice. “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen” (1 Corinthians 15:13). And “For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen” (1 Corinthians 15:16).

In effect, he’s saying something very similar to what we learned from Hebrews: that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was made truly and fully Man. 

So, 1 Corinthians 15:17 is true in two extremely important ways. (1) If Jesus is not made just like other men, subject to all of the same rules and conditions—except that He is not a sinner—then, He is not qualified to be our Substitute. (2) If Jesus did not in fact rise from the dead, then He has continued under the curse of death, and there has been no visible display and declaration from God that His sacrifice has been accepted for the forgiveness of our sins (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

One of the problems that we have in our culture is that we seem to be content without the resurrection. “Rest in Peace” we often say or hear—even about those who have nothing like a credible profession of faith in Jesus Christ!

But even about those who believe in Christ, 1 Corinthians 15:141 Corinthians 15:181 Corinthians 15:19 say that this would be a terrible mistake! If Christ was not raised, then we have not been made right with God. If we will not be raised, then we have not been made right with God. 

Are there advantages for this life in being renewed and learning to love and obey God and one another? Sure there are. But if there is no resurrection, then there has been no forgiveness, and Christians who die would not be “absent from the body and present with Christ” in glory. Rather, if there is no resurrection, then there has been no forgiveness, and Christians who die would be suffering Hell.

As it is, others are most pitiable, because they seek after the “good life” that Asaph coveted in the first 2/3 of Psalm 73, but they will be suddenly and eternally destroyed. If the resurrection were not true, then we indeed would be most pitiable: living a life that builds for and anticipates everlasting joy, only to find that at last Hell opens its mouth to swallow us in eternal suffering.

Thinking about your own heart: how often do you think about Christ’s resurrection? How much does it mean to you? Why or why not? What would help you think more often about Him being resurrected and alive and returning soon? What has He given in the life of the church to stir us up to think about these things more frequently? How often do you think about your own bodily resurrection? How important is it to you? How can you see it making a difference in your choices?

Suggested songs: ARP72B “Nomads Will Bow” or TPH358 “Sing, Choirs of New Jerusalem”


Monday, December 13, 2021

2021.12.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Questions from the Scripture text: What is Paul declaring to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 15:1? What did he preach? What had they received? In what did they stand? By what are they saved (1 Corinthians 15:2)? What other kind of faith is there than saving faith (end of verse 2)? What had Paul—first of all—delivered to them (1 Corinthians 15:3)? For what had Christ died? In accordance with what? What was done with Him then (1 Corinthians 15:4a)? But what did He do after He was buried? In accordance with what? By whom was He seen (1 Corinthians 15:5a)? Then by whom (verse 5b)? Then by whom (1 Corinthians 15:6)? After the gathering of over 500, by whom was He seen again (1 Corinthians 15:7)? By how many of the apostles? Who was last (1 Corinthians 15:8)? What does Paul say about the timing of his own becoming an apostle? What does Paul say about his place among the apostles (1 Corinthians 15:9a)? Why (verse 9b)? How did such an one as Paul become an apostle (1 Corinthians 15:10a)? What else did God’s grace enable Paul to do  (verse 10b)? But what is the same, no matter which apostle was preaching it, or which believer was believing it (1 Corinthians 15:11)?

In this week’s epistle reading, we continued upon the theme of the use of the understanding in worship. Now, the apostle addresses us not upon the subject of how the understanding must be used in worship, but rather upon the subject of what it is that we should be understanding, as we think in worship.

What do you think about in worship? That’s a good question, and it needs answering, because 1 Corinthians 15:2 reminds us that there is something that looks like faith but is really empty. What is first of all? What is most important?

Christ. Christ dead for sins. Christ buried. Christ risen again.

Apostolic signs have been a subject for much of this letter, and Paul here clearly makes the case that there are no apostles after him—so that time coming of having a completed Bible, about which 1 Corinthians 15:13 spoke (and which Jesus had promised in John 16) was coming soon.

But the signs of a true apostle were more directly important than confirming the written Word of the apostles. The signs were also confirming the eye-witness of the apostles. The apostles, as well as these more than 500 others, were eye-witnesses of the resurrected Christ.

O, dear Christian, there is nothing so important to us as the resurrected Christ! And to think much of ourselves is directly opposed to humbling ourselves low before Him. By the grace of God alone we have whatever calling or place we find ourselves in. By the grace of God alone may we be faithful in that calling or place.

The most important thing about our place in the church is that, in it, we carry forward the gospel of Christ dead for sins, buried, and risen again!

How do you dwell upon our resurrected Lord? How often? How does it affect your life?

 Suggested songs: ARP72B “Nomads Will Bow” or TPH358 “Sing, Choirs of New Jerusalem”


Saturday, December 11, 2021

2021.12.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 1:1–3

Read Acts 1:1–3

Questions from the Scripture text: What had Luke previously made (Acts 1:1a)? To whom does he address this one? What did the former account describe? At what point did that account conclude (Acts 1:2a)? What had He done first to the apostles (verse 2b)? Which apostles? What else had He done to them (Acts 1:3a)? After what? By what kind and quantity of proofs? For how long (verse 3b)? Speaking to them about what? 

To be continued. Luke introduces Acts as the second volume of a two-volume work. In the first volume, the evangelist put together an account that was orderly (cf. Luke 1:1a, Luke 1:3b). He declares the intentionality of his history. He put together an account of what had been fulfilled up to that point (cf. Luke 1:1b). He describes those from whom, humanly speaking, he had obtained his information: eyewitnesses and ministers of the word (cf. Luke 1:2). He explains that the Lord gave him a complete (“perfect”) understanding of the things written in his gospel (cf. Luke 1:3). And he presents his purpose: that although Theophilus had already been instructed (literally, “catechized”), now he might obtain strong certainty about what he has learned (cf. Luke 1:4). 

Now, it’s time for volume two, which we commonly call “Acts.” Everything Jesus had fulfilled in the gospel of Luke is still just “all that Jesus began both to do and to teach.” It was only the beginning. In Luke 24:46–47, Jesus described how the Scriptures taught two necessary things: (1) the Christ suffer and rise from the dead the third day; (2) repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. The former are the things that Jesus had “begun” to do and to teach. Now, the latter are what Jesus continues doing. That is the subject of the book of Acts. 

Through the Spirit. It’s a marvelous thing that our Lord, even in His resurrected state, depended entirely upon the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:2) in His forty-day ministry to the apostles. The Spirit had visibly come down upon Him at the initiation of His public ministry. His entire earthly ministry was sustained by the Spirit. Now, they are to wait until He sends the Spirit down upon them. That ministry which is truly of Jesus Christ will always be dependent upon the Holy Spirit whom Jesus gives. 

By the Word. Yet, it would be a great mistake to think that dependence upon the Spirit looks like lack of study or unpredictable spontaneity. Through the Spirit, the risen Christ had given commandments (Acts 1:2). Through the Spirit, the risen Christ spoke of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). In fact, these things were things that the Lord Jesus was teaching them from the Old Testament Scriptures (cf. Luke 24:44–48). The Word is the appointed instrument of Christ. The Word is the appointed instrument of the Spirit. Concerning the reality of the risen Christ. At the foundation of all of this, we find that “He presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many infallible proofs. The story and advance of the kingdom is the story and advance of the King. God’s glory and Your good depend upon the reality and historicity of His physically resurrected occupation of the throne of glory. 

What should you expect from the book of Acts? How can this become effectual in your life and experience? 

Sample prayer: Lord, You have risen from the dead, ascended into heaven, sat down on the throne, and poured out Your Spirit. Forgive us for when we don’t feel our dependence upon You, or for when we are not sure of Your work by Your Spirit, or when we do not seek to see that work by Your Word. Use that Word, by Your Spirit, to finish Your work, we ask in Your Name, AMEN! 

Suggested songs: ARP1“How Blessed the Man” or TPH172 “Speak, O Lord

Friday, December 10, 2021

2021.12.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 10:1–20

Read Exodus 10:1–20

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom is Moses to go (Exodus 10:1)?What has Yahweh done to him? In order to show what? And so that Moses (and Israel) can speak to whom (Exodus 10:2)? Speak what things? In order to know what? What do Moses and Aaron ask Pharaoh in Yahweh’s behalf (Exodus 10:3)? What do they command? What will Yahweh do if Pharaoh refuses (Exodus 10:4)? What will the locusts do (Exodus 10:5)? What won’t people be able to do? What will the locusts eat? Which three groups’ houses will they fill (Exodus 10:6)/ How rare would this locust plague be? Who else is telling Pharaoh to let the people go now (Exodus 10:7)? What do they ask him? What does Pharaoh now say to Moses and Aaron (Exodus 10:8)/ What does he ask? What six specific entities does Moses say must go (Exodus 10:9)? For what purpose? Whom does Pharaoh refuse, with what words (Exodus 10:10)? What does he warn? What does he “offer” instead (Exodus 10:11a)? How does verse 11b describe (prophetically) their dismissal? What does Yahweh tell Moses to do (Exodus 10:12)? With what result? What does Moses stretch out in Exodus 10:13?What does Yahweh bring? What does that wind bring? How does Exodus 10:14 describe the intensity of the plague? What did they cover (Exodus 10:15)? What did they do to the land? What did they eat? What remained, where? For whom does Pharaoh call (Exodus 10:16)? In what manner? What does he say? For what does he ask (Exodus 10:17)? How does he limit it? Where does Pharaoh go and do what (Exodus 10:18)? What does Yahweh bring now (Exodus 10:19a)? With what (miraculous) result (verse 19b)? What did Yahweh do to Pharaoh (Exodus 10:20a)? With what result (verse 20b)? 

Intentionally protracted persecution. As we read about the eighth plague, we find something precious in Exodus 10:2—the LORD’s ministry to ourselves! For, we who trust in the Redeemer are spiritual descendants in the line begun here. One of God’s purposes in bringing locusts upon Egypt was that we might hear His signs and know that He is the LORD. That we might tell our children and see them come to know that He is LORD. This is actually given as the reason, in Exodus 10:1, for sending Moses to Pharaoh: precisely because Pharaoh has hardened his heart. 

Even among the plagues thus far, this one was particularly devastating—as Pharaoh’s servants pointed out even before it was inflicted (Exodus 10:7b). Things have gotten so bad that they are not afraid to rebuke Pharaoh! So hard is his heart that it seems unbelievable to them that he would persist against the LORD and His people. 

Insane sinfulness. But such is the conflict between sanity and our sin. Pharaoh believes himself to be “Ra.” If the word is transliterated, instead of translated, the end of Exodus 10:10 actually says “Ra is in front of you!” Every resistance of the Lord and of Christ is an insanity in which we think ourselves gods to rival the LORD. It is pathetic to see in Pharaoh, so that we might have him as a mirror in which to see our own folly. 

Incomplete repentance. Even when he is brought to “repentance” in this passage, it is only superficial. “Only this once” and “this death only” in Exodus 10:17 show how little he grasps the magnitude of his rebellion and guilt. And even then, it is only temporary (Exodus 10:20). How dreadful, then, for those who do not even come to that much repentance; they are harder hearted than Pharaoh, more deluded with their own divinity than Pharaoh. 

Through all of this, we come to know the LORD. His power is unquestioned; His enemies are doomed. His mercy is unfathomable; though we be wicked like Pharaoh, yet He Himself has borne our guilt in order to redeem us. May He make us, all the more, to know Him in His power and His mercy! 

Where are worldlings erecting themselves as God? What will be the outcome of that? Where are you tempted to act as your own god? If you have repented and believed, what is/will be the outcome of that? 

Sample prayer: Lord, there is no power that truly competes with You. The powers of this world are deluded. And whenever we reject Your law, we are no less deluded. Forgive us for when we fear them, or when we indulge ourselves. Mercifully deliver us from the oppressor without and from the sin within. Make us to know You in Your power and mercy, and give us the joy of seeing our children and children’s children come to know You as well, which we ask through Christ, AMEN! 

Suggested songs: ARP2“Why Do Gentile NationsRage?” or TPH450“Jesus, Lover of My Soul”