Each week we webcast Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, morning public worship at 11a, and p.m. singing and sermon at 2:30p (sermon at 3:30); and the Weds. Prayer Meeting at 6:30p

Saturday, January 09, 2021

2021.01.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 42:29–43:14

Read Genesis 42:29–43:14

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom do the brothers go in Genesis 42:29? Where? What do they tell him? About Joseph (Genesis 42:30)? About what they said (Genesis 42:31-32)? About what Joseph did and said (Genesis 42:33-34)? Now what do they discover in Genesis 42:35? Who sees it with them? How do they all feel about it? What does Jacob say they have done (Genesis 42:36)? What does he say are against him? What does he refuse? What proposal does Reuben make in Genesis 42:37)? Does Jacob accept the offer (Genesis 42:38)? What does he say about Joseph? What does he say about Benjamin? What does he say might happen to Benjamin, and what does he say this would do to himself? What does this imply about the comparative value of the ten other brothers? What was severe in Canaan (Genesis 43:1)? What had they done in Genesis 43:2? Who spoke to them? What did he say? Who spoke to their father in Genesis 43:3? Of what does he remind him? On what condition will they go buy food (Genesis 43:4)? Why won’t they go if this condition is not met (Genesis 43:5)? What does Genesis 43:6 call Jacob? How is this ironic with how he is thinking/acting? Whom does he accuse of doing what to him? By saying what to whom? What explanation do they give for how they came to divulge the information (Genesis 43:7)? What do they say was impossible to know? Again who speaks in Genesis 43:8? What does he request Israel to do? What does he offer as a surety in Genesis 43:9 (cf. Genesis 42:37)? What does he propose to happen if he does not bring Benjamin back? What does he say could have been the situation on what condition (Genesis 43:10)? What does Israel tell them to take in Genesis 43:11? As what? And what in Genesis 43:12? Why? And whom (Genesis 43:13)? Whom does he finally mention in Genesis 43:14? What does he pray might be given them, seemingly implying that it has not been given thus far? What would be the evidence that He has given them mercy? What does Israel imply would not be merciful (in a way that suggests that this would be the current status quo?!)?

“Jacob their father” (Genesis 42:29) should have been “their father Israel” (Genesis 43:11). Rather than “heel grabber” as he had begun, he should have been “God wrestles” as he would ultimately end.

But, he was still very much acting like a Jacob. After hearing their story (Genesis 42:29–34), and seeing that it was not just one frightful sack of money but ten (Genesis 42:35, cf. Genesis 42:28), Jacob whines about what they have done to him. And not just them, but “all these things are against me” (Genesis 42:36)! 

He is thinking only of himself. What kind of father must he have been that Reuben would think that the deaths of his two sons—Jacob’s own grandchildren—would somehow placate him. 

Jacob certainly seems willing enough to sacrifice any chance at regaining Simeon in order to take no chance at all of losing Benjamin. He tells the nine before him that all of them together are literally nothing to Benjamin without Joseph (“he is left alone,” Genesis 42:38a). And they would be of zero value for the comfort of Jacob, verse 38b). 

When the food is completely used up, Jacob still doesn’t seem to care about Simeon—or even about Benjamin by comparison to his devotion to himself(!): “”why did you deal so evilly with me as to tell the man that you had still another brother?” (Genesis 43:6). 

Judah, by comparison, puts not his children but himself on the line in Genesis 43:8-9. Jacob realizes that not just Benjamin, but all of them will die, if they have no food. So, he comes up with all of the plans and schemes possible, still living by his wits. Only at the end of the passage, does he finally seem to give any thought at all to God, or His power (“God almighty”) or His mercy (Genesis 43:14). 

And it is at this point that we put it all together. “If I am bereaved, I am bereaved” he whines, and we realize how impersonally he has been viewing providence. But providence is personal! In all of this whining and grumbling and self-pity and accusation, Jacob has been revealing a heart that little values or acknowledges the wisdom and goodness of God.

What a wicked thing is whining, grumbling, self-pity, and an accusing spirit! Not so much for what it does to those around us, though that indeed is harmful. But for how it treats our almighty, merciful God! May He preserve us not so much from difficult circumstances but from indulging such wicked sentiments!

About what are you tempted to grumbling or self-pity? How is God acting toward you in it?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH231 “Whate’er My God Ordains Is Right”

Friday, January 08, 2021

2021.01.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 6:21–22

Read Ephesians 6:21–22

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle want them to know (Ephesians 6:21)? Whom is he sending for this purpose? What two things does the apostle call him? What (of those things that the apostle wanted them to know) will Tychicus tell them? What two purposes does the apostle state or this sending in Ephesians 6:22? 

The Ephesian church and Paul were precious to one another. He had pastored there for almost three years (Acts 19:1–10), and their tearful goodbye is one of the most moving scenes in the Bible (Acts 20:17–38). He loved them with a similar love to that which he had Titus, about whom his heart was troubled until he knew how things were with him (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:13).

So, Paul loved them as himself and wanted to keep them from the same distress that he had for Titus. And, thank God for His providence in this, because the purpose of sending Tychicus with this glorious letter was that the Ephesians might know how things are with their beloved apostle (Ephesians 6:21). Tychicus would tell them everything so that they would know what’s going on with Paul, and this would comfort their hearts (Ephesians 6:22).

What an amazing letter we have as a result!

I wonder if our affection for one another in Christ is so great that we would be deeply distressed by not knowing how each other are doing. And if we know that God’s eternal plan and current work will be all the more encouraging to one another, so that in our “ordinary” communications we are eager to remind one another of the extraordinary gospel.

Tychicus was such a friend. He was known as a “beloved brother and faithful servant.” He carried not only this letter, but also that to Colossae (Colossians 4:7), from Laodicea (Colossians 4:16, possibly referring to Ephesians), and probably the letter about Onesimus to Philemon (cf. Colossians 4:9). He may even have carried 2 Timothy to Ephesus (cf. 2 Timothy 4:12). 

What a blessing such men are—beloved among the churches, and faithful and reliable for the most needful works of service. Presumably, he too wished to know how the Ephesians were, and wished to alleviate them of any anxiety about how Paul was doing. Such love ought to characterize those who have been reconciled to one another and joined to one another, in Christ Who has reconciled us to God!

How does your love for believers reflect some of the cares/priorities reflected here?

Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” 

Thursday, January 07, 2021

Christ, the Blessed Man for Us, to Us, and in Us (210106 Prayer Meeting Lesson in Psalm 1)

Christ for us is our worthiness for blessedness. Christ unto us is our counsel and companionship unto blessedness. Christ within us is our life for the fruitfulness of blessedness.

2020.01.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 11:29–36

Read Luke 11:29–36

Questions from the Scripture text: What kind of crowd is there in Luke 11:29? What does Jesus call their generation? Why? What sign does he say will be given? To whom was Jonah a sign (Luke 11:30)? Who will be a similar sign to His generation? Who will rise with that generation at the judgment (Luke 11:31)? What will she do then? What had she done in her time? To hear whom? But Whom are that generation not hearing? Who else will rise up with this generation at the judgment (Luke 11:32)? And do what? At what did they repent? At Whose preaching is that generation not repenting? What does no one do to a lit lamp (Luke 11:33)? Why? What does Jesus call “the lamp of the body” in Luke 11:34? What is true “when your eye is good”? What is true “when your eye is bad”? Unto what are we to take heed (Luke 11:35)? How does Luke 11:36 summarize/reiterate this point?

The last time we heard the illustration of the unhidden lamp was in Luke 8:4–18 and the lesson that we must take heed how we listen to the Scripture. Here in these eight verses, we have the same lesson, with the warning of the exceedingly deep darkness into which they plunge who refuse to submit to Christ’s Word as light (Luke 11:33-36).

Truly, the resurrection of Jonah must have been a great sign unto the Ninevites and instrumentally used of God in bringing them to repentance. But the New Testament is an even greater marvel. It comes from the pens of apostles of a Man (a GOD-Man!) who was in the belly of the earth for three days and nights (Luke 11:29, cf. Matthew 12:39–41)… and is now seated on the throne of Heaven, from whence He has poured out His Holy Spirit. 

So, let us heed the warning here. For if Nineveh and the queen of the South, by their heeding the wisdom of lessers, would condemn Christ’s generation for failing to listen to Him… then, if we do not listen to His preaching of His own Scriptures by His Spirit using His servants to proclaim what was written by His apostles… will not Nineveh and the queen of the South also condemn us at the judgment?

We must accept the Bible’s truth. We must have our thoughts corrected and reshaped by it. We must have our affections judged by it and accordingly rejected or stirred up. We must have our decisions, desires, and motivations determined by it. We must love it, treasure it, feed upon it, and delight in it. It is the very words of our Redeemer King! And there is none great as He.

It is through this type of hearing His Word that He has appointed it to be a lamp unto our feet and light to our path, granting light to your whole being (Luke 11:33Luke 11:36, cf. Psalm 19:8; Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 6:23; 2 Peter 1:19). 

Oh, dear Christian, when you read your Bible, when you have family worship, and especially when you hear the Word faithfully preached in the holy assembly on the Lord’s Day, take heed how you hear! Take heed how you hear!

When do you receive Christ’s Word? What are you doing with it? How can you improve?

Suggested songs: ARP119N “Your Word’s a Lamp” or TPH119N “Your Word Sheds Light upon My Path”

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

2020.01.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Samuel 31

Read 1 Samuel 31

Questions from the Scripture text: What is happening as David and his men split the spoil from the Amalekites (1 Samuel 31:1)? What happens to the men of Israel in this fight? Where? After whom do the Philistines follow hard in 1 Samuel 31:2a? Whom do they kill (verse 2b)? Against whom does the battle then become fierce (1 Samuel 31:3)? Who hit (lit. “find”) him? With what effect? What does Saul ask his armorbearer to do (1 Samuel 31:4)? Why? Why wouldn’t he? What did Saul do instead? What does the armorbearer see in 1 Samuel 31:5? What does he do? What was the cumulative effect of all of this (1 Samuel 31:6)? What men were where in 1 Samuel 31:7? What did they see? What did they do? Who came and did what? What are Philistines doing the next day (1 Samuel 31:8)? What do they find? What do they do to Saul (1 Samuel 31:9)? To whom do they send word? Where do they proclaim it? Where do they put his armor (1 Samuel 31:10)? His body? Who hear about this in 1 Samuel 31:11 (cf.1 Samuel 11:1–11)? Who arise (1 Samuel 31:12)? How long do they travel? What do they take from where? What do they do with the desecrated bodies? But what do they do with their bones (1 Samuel 31:13)? And then what do they do?

God’s Word is always true, but His people often aren’t.  

We’ve been kept waiting for two chapters to find out how Samuel’s words from 1 Samuel 28:19 to resolve. And resolve they do, to the great grief of Israel. 

Jonathan and brothers die in 1 Samuel 31:2. Saul kills himself in 1 Samuel 31:4. The armorbearer kills himself in 1 Samuel 31:5. All his men die in 1 Samuel 31:6. An entire region of Israelites abandon their homes and are displaced by Philistines in 1 Samuel 31:7.

But there is comfort in this grief, precisely because it is exactly as God has said. The reliability of His precious and faithful Word is upheld. And the fact of His good and wise purposes in the most grievous of circumstances is repeated.

Dreadfully, however, 1 Samuel 31:9-10 hearken back to 1 Samuel 5, in which Yahweh and the ark humiliated the Philistines and their gods, Dagon in particular. Now, the necessary judgment upon Saul has come at the cost of shame being cast upon Israel and (much worse) Israel’s God. If 1 Samuel 4 ends in Ichabod (the glory has departed), this is even more grievous: the glory has been humiliated.

Let us take comfort in the reliability of God’s Word and the reality of God’s purposes, but let us never take them as excuses for our own unfaithfulness—lest we become occasions for bringing shame uon the church and (much worse) the church’s God!

Instead, trusting ourselves to Him, let us be like onetime weak men of Jabesh Gilead (1 Samuel 31:11, cf. 1 Samuel 11:1–11). They had once depended upon the rest of Israel to come to their aid, but now with the rest of Israel dead, defeated, or running, the men of Jabesh Gilead go alone to salvage what they can of the dignity of Israel’s king and princes (1 Samuel 31:12-13). The mutilated flesh is even disposed of so that the bones may be buried in anticipation of the resurrection. 

It seems like little; but, trusting the whole to the Lord, it was what they could do. So on the one hand, seek that you do not become an occasion for shame. But rather, do what you can for the honor of the church and her King, however little it may be. You can count upon the reliability of His Word and reality of His purposes.

To what shame-bringing sin are you tempted? For what righteousness and service do you have opportunity—and why might this require courage? Where will you get it?

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

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Our Faltering Love Perfected by His Faithful Love (Family Worship in Romans 8:28–39)

What hope can believers have, when they see that their love for God and obedience to His calling are so poor? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these twelve verses, we learn that our hope is as sure as the character, plan, and work of God Himself—now having been secured by our Redeemer, the God-Man, Who sits on the throne of glory!

2021.01.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 8:28–39

Read Romans 8:28–39

Questions from the Scripture text: Which things do we know work together for good (Romans 8:28)? To whom do they work together for good? What did God also do to those whom He foreknew (Romans 8:29a)? To what did He predestine them (verse 29b)? For what reason (verse 29c)? What did He do for those whom He predestined (Romans 8:30a)? What did He do for those whom He called (verse 30b)? What did he do for those whom He justified (verse 30c)? Who is for us (Romans 8:31)? Who can (successfully) be against us? What (Whom!) did God not spare (Romans 8:32a)? What did God do with His Son for us? What will God give to us together with Him? What does God do instead of bringing a charge against His elect (Romans 8:33)? What does Jesus do, instead of condemning us (Romans 8:34)? What are some of the things that are not able to separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35Romans 8:38-39)? What is one of the reasons that such things happen (Romans 8:36)? So, what is going on in the midst of these things (Romans 8:37)? 

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Romans 8:28–39, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with A Debtor to Mercy Alone.

All things must work together for our good. Nothing can separate us from God’s love. These are truths that make hearts swell up with joy and praise.

And we see here what marvelously sure truths they are.

God’s love is sure, because it goes back before time. God “foreknowing” His elect is not some form of divine cheating by sneaking a peek at the end. It’s talking about knowing in terms of a relationship: He loved us before the world began (cf. Ephesians 1:3-6). It was this love, that He simply decided to set upon us, that led to our being predestined. A love that is from eternity cannot be undone by anything that occurs in time.

God’s love is sure, because it is in Christ and for His sake. God loves the glory of His Son, and He has determined that for the Son’s great glory, He would be displayed as the firstborn of many brothers and sisters who have been shaped to look like Him. We’re predestined to bring Christ glory!

God’s love is sure, because His law now demands that it continue. We have been justified with Christ’s righteousness. The One who makes the charges at the judgment is the One who has justified us (Romans 8:33). The One who condemns at the judgment is the One who has taken our condemnation and is continually pleading our case (Romans 8:34).

God’s love is sure, because its most infinite gift has already been given, and it is irrational to think that anything else could possibly be held back (Romans 8:32).

There are many things that come into our lives that threaten to shake our joy in God’s love. But, when we consider them in the light of the teaching in these verses, that threat quickly dissolves.

We realize, instead, that even if we are like sheep being slaughtered, it is for His sake. It is because we are joined to Him in that love from which we can never be separated. It is most certain that this love will prevail with us, and that we will prevail in the trial. Even before the trial ends, we can know already that we are more than conquerors!

Election and predestination are not dry, dusty doctrines for theological fuddy-duddies. They are the foundation of sure, victorious love!

In what current circumstance do you most need to cling to the cross and God’s electing love?

Suggested songs: ARP130 “LORD, from the Depths to You I Cried” or TPH434 “A Debtor to Mercy Alone”

Monday, January 04, 2021

Minds Protected by the Spirit through Scripture and Prayer (2021.01.03 Evening Sermon in Ephesians 6:17–20)

Our minds are vital, and the Spirit protects them by meditation upon God's Word of salvation, which we constantly turn over in prayer before Him.

Sanctification, part 1 (2021.01.03 Sabbath School in WCF 13)

This was the first class in WCF 13, "On Sanctification"

What Is This God Has Done to Us?—When Providence Provokes Repentance (2021.01.03 Morning Sermon in Genesis 42:8–28)

Often, one of God's loving and wise purposes in difficult providences is to provoke us to renewed repentance

2021.01.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 42:8–38

 Read Genesis 42:8–38

Questions from the Scripture text: Who recognized whom (Genesis 42:8)? Who did not recognize whom? What did Joseph remember (Genesis 42:9)? Of what did he accuse them? What did they call Joseph (Genesis 42:10)? Themselves? Why did they claim to have come? What do they claim proves them honest and not spies (Genesis 42:11)? How does Joseph answer (Genesis 42:12)? What new data do they add in Genesis 42:13 to the claim in verse 11? How does Joseph answer (Genesis 42:14)? By whose life does he speak in Genesis 42:15Genesis 42:16? How does he propose to test them? How many may leave (verse 16)? What will happen to the rest? How long did Joseph put them there (Genesis 42:17, cf. Genesis 40:12–13, Genesis 40:18–19)? What did Joseph claim about himself in Genesis 42:18? How many does he now propose to keep in prison (Genesis 42:19)? What are the rest to do for whom? Whom are they to bring (Genesis 42:20)? Why? What do they now say about themselves in Genesis 42:21? What had they seen? What did they refuse to do? What do they think this has caused? Who answers them in Genesis 42:22? What does he say that he and they had done? What does he say is now happening to them? What didn’t they know (Genesis 42:23)? How does Joseph respond in Genesis 42:24? Whom does he take? What does he do? Before what? What does Joseph command (Genesis 42:25a)? What unexpected additions does he make (verse 25b)? What do they do in Genesis 42:26? To where do they arrive in Genesis 42:27? What does one of them do? What does he see? Whom does he tell (Genesis 42:28)? What happens to their hearts? What do they ask? 

We would be wrong to read Joseph’s actions here in colors of pride or vengeance. If he were acting in pride, he could have rubbed their faces into the dirt—at the moment that their faces were already, literally in the dirt. If he were acting in vengeance, he could have had them executed or tortured, and sent a delegation with food back to his father and brother in Canaan.

But, Joseph acts to preserve not only their lives (Genesis 42:25a, as he does for the Egyptian people) but also their wealth (verse 25b, which he takes away from the Egyptian people!). And he does so in a way that is designed to bring them to repentance, as he gets to hear them say, “We are truly guilty concerning our brother… therefore this distress has come upon us” (Genesis 42:21), and we get to hear them say, “What is this that God has done to us?” (Genesis 42:28).

Indeed, in that latter statement, there is an implied, intuited idea that God acts with purpose and justice in bringing us under judgment—perhaps even the idea that God’s purpose in affliction is sometimes in wisdom to bring us to repentance.

Like Nathan with David (cf. 2 Samuel 12), Joseph here is imitating the wisdom and patience and love of God (cf. e.g., Hosea 5) as he employs his resources to help his brothers come to repentance. And we are right to be impressed by how wisely and well he pulls it off.

But if this one instance of love and wisdom over against pride and vengeance is so impressive, how much more is the love and wisdom and mercy and stooping down of our God unto us, as He brings us unto repentance instead of destroying us!

Well might He have rubbed our noses in the dirt from which we came. Well might He have exercised all of the glory of His being in meting out destruction upon us (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:8–9). But instead, He has become a man and humbled Himself to death on the cross, and works in each of His elect’s life by His providence, Word, and Spirit to bring us to repentance!

We don’t always have authority and position from which to work in the best interests, temporal and spiritual, of those whom we love. But we ought always desire it, always pray for it, and always do what is appropriate for it from the position in which God has placed us. 

Even as we imitate Him who has done so almightily, all-mercifully, all-wisely for us!

Whom do you know who needs to repent and believe? What place and opportunity has God given you to help them? What else can you do, and must you do, for them?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH341 “Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed”