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 16, 2021

2021.01.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 43:15–34

Read Genesis 43:15–34

Questions from the Scripture text: What three things do the men take where (Genesis 43:15)? Before whom do they stand? Whom does Joseph see (Genesis 43:16)? What does he say to do? To where do the servants bring the men (Genesis 43:17)? How do the men feel (Genesis 43:18)? Why? To what do they think the Egyptians are responding? What two things do they think the Egyptians are trying to obtain? To whom do they draw near (Genesis 43:19)? What do they explain to him (Genesis 43:20-23)? How does the steward answer in Genesis 43:23? Where does he bring them? What does he do to them? What does he do to their donkeys? What do they make ready for Joseph (Genesis 43:25)? In what manner do they present it to him (Genesis 43:26)? About what and whom does he ask in Genesis 43:27? What do they call their father in Genesis 43:28? What do they again do? Whom does he now see in Genesis 43:29? What does he ask? What blessing does he pronounce? Why did Joseph have to hurry (Genesis 43:30)? To do what? Where? After weeping, what did he do and say (Genesis 43:31)? Where did he sit (Genesis 43:32)? Where did they sit? Why? In what order did he seat them (Genesis 43:33)? How do they respond to that? Who takes servings to them? Whose servings are different from the others in what way (Genesis 43:34)? What do they all do? 

Joseph has been a good witness in his house, perhaps. Look at his steward’s response to the brothers, as compared to their own response. “Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks.” This isn’t just comfort and assurance but thoroughly theological, even covenantally theological, comfort and assurance. 

God has made promises to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their children after them. God rules and overrules in all things, and all belongs to Him. He is the good Giver of all things, and He is always ultimately doing good to the people of promise.

The sons have all of the truth to know this, but emphasis upon these things just doesn’t seem to have been there in Jacob’s house. But Joseph’s Egyptian steward has this perspective. And he learned it from the man who in Genesis 43:29 says to Benjamin, “God be gracious to you, my son” and proceeds to pile five times as much as any of the other brothers’ onto Benjamin’s plate (Genesis 43:34).

This allows those in high position to serve and be generous to those in low position: all good comes from God’s grace! Egyptians aren’t even supposed to sit at the same table as a Hebrew (Genesis 43:32), but as soon as everyone’s seated, the vizier of Egypt leaves his seat to wait upon the abominable Hebrews. Much like our own Master says that He (!) will do for His servants (!) when He returns (cf. Luke 12:37).

Perhaps it is the humility of the vizier that helps them not to be jealous of Benjamin. Or perhaps they are just glad that they didn’t end up donkey-less slaves like their Jacob-mindedness had led them to dread (Genesis 43:18). But they are actually liberated from jealousy to eat, drink, and be merry with him (end of Genesis 43:34)!

Our covenant God is abundantly generous and good. The right interpretation of every situation for a believer always includes, “God is being good to me.” And His generosity to us ought to liberate us from jealousy so we can enjoy His being good not only to others but also to ourselves. And this is most extremely so in Christ’s own humbling Himself to do us good and even to serve us (!!) in the kingdom!

Of whom are you tempted to be jealous? How does focusing upon God’s goodness to you in Christ help with that? To whom could you be showing great generosity?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH145B “I Will Exalt You, God, My King”

Friday, January 15, 2021

2021.01.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 6:23–24

Read Ephesians 6:23–24

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle first declare toward whom in Ephesians 6:23? What else, with what? From Whom? What does he now declare in Ephesians 6:24? To whom—Whom do they love, and how? How does he conclude the letter?

The apostle closes the letter by declaring a blessing upon believers. It is a blessing upon those who give evidence of having been saved. 

The first and greatest evidence of having been saved is to love the Lord Jesus Christ with an incorruptible love. A love that came from His own loving us and therefore can never be undone.

The other evidence is that they know the Lord Jesus Christ to be God Himself Who became also a Man so that He could be the anointed Christ and save His people from their sins. By declaring that this blessedness comes conjointly from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, the apostle is confessing Jesus to be God. This is what each true recipient of this blessing believes.

And what do they receive from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ?

Peace. They are brethren and have peace with one another. As the apostle taught us in Ephesians 2:11–22 this brotherhood came about by God’s giving them peace with Himself through the blood of Christ. We have been brought near. We know His presence and His pleasure.

Love with faith. Believers not only receive the love of God shed abroad in our hearts (Ephesians 2:4–7, cf. Romans 5:8), but the faith to know this as a truth and experience is itself a gift that God gives in His love (Ephesians 2:8). Here, the apostle pronounces a blessing of both, “love with faith.”

Grace. All of God’s resources for all of our lacking. His blessing and favor to those who deserve only curse. His strength for those who have only weakness. His goodness for those who have only wickedness. By grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:8). “Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.”

When does Jesus pronounce blessings like this one upon you? What evidence has He produced in you that the blessing is for you? What are His greatest blessings to you?

Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH212 “Come Thou Almighty King”

Thursday, January 14, 2021

From Raging to Rejoicing by Submission to Christ (2021.01.13 Prayer Meeting Lesson in Psalm 2)

Kings, nations, and people rage because they are resisting Christ's unthwartable reign. But those for whom He prays and whom He subdues by His Word and power go from trembling in rage to trembling with awe as they rejoice in the sweetness of submitting to Him and belonging to Him.

2021.01.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 11:37–54

Read Luke 11:37–54

Questions from the Scripture text: Who asks Jesus to do what in Luke 11:37? What does Jesus do? At what does the Pharisee marvel (Luke 11:38)? What does Jesus say Pharisees clean (Luke 11:39a)? But with what does Jesus say the inside is filthy (verse 39b)? What does Jesus then call them (Luke 11:40)? About Whom does He now ask them? What does He give as a sample symptom of inner cleanliness (Luke 11:41)? What does He now pronounce upon the Pharisees (Luke 11:42)? What do they do? What do they pass by? Which of these ought they have done? For what second reason does He pronounce a woe upon them (Luke 11:43)? Whom does Jesus add to the third woe (Luke 11:44)? What does He say they are like? What happens to someone who touches a grave (cf. Numbers 19:16)? Who complains about what in Luke 11:45? Upon whom does Jesus respond by pronouncing a woe (Luke 11:46)? For their doing what? But not doing what? For what does he pronounce a second woe (Luke 11:47)? Of what does Jesus say the lawyers approve (Luke 11:48)? What had God’s wisdom said (Luke 11:49)? So that what would happen (Luke 11:50-51)? For what does Jesus pronounce the third woe upon the lawyers—what did they take away (Luke 11:52)? What did they not do? What did the scribes and Pharisees begin to do (Luke 11:53)? What did they then do (Luke 11:54)?

Jesus has been talking about how we respond to His Word (Luke 11:29–36), and a Pharisee invites Him over for dinner (Luke 11:37) but is astonished that Jesus doesn’t perform the intricate ritual washing that the Pharisee expected (Luke 11:38). 

The text doesn’t even record for us that the Pharisee said anything. But Jesus launches into a scathing denouncement of the Pharisees, lumping the scribes (writing-guys) into the third pronouncement of woe (Luke 11:44). The lawyers (law-guys) take offense which gets us three more woes—all six having ultimately to do with how we respond to the Lord Jesus’s Word. What six things must we watch against in relation to God’s Word?

Ignoring that the God Who spoke it sees right to the innermost parts of our hearts (Luke 11:39-41). There are really seven things to watch for, because Jesus declares this one first of all, as a reason for the six woes. When we read or hear the Bible, we are interacting personally with Him Who created all things, including us, and especially our eternal souls. To expose that they did not respond to the living God from the heart, Jesus picks the one thing that the self-righteous of His day seemed most unable to bring themselves to do (Luke 11:41, cf. Matthew 19:21, Mark 10:21, Luke 18:22). 

Selective obedience to some of the Bible but not all (Luke 11:42). Notice that they’re not criticized for caring about the minutiae. “These you ought to have done.”

Using Word/worship gatherings to satisfy desire for recognition that saturates our lives (Luke 11:43). Their priority in the synagogue was the same as in the marketplace: honor from men.

Attempting to appear better than we are, and so endangering everyone around us (Luke 11:44). Jesus lumps the scribes into this one, implying that He is still emphasizing response to the Word. The hypocrite had two faces—a real one, and the one that he put on for everyone else to see. But this makes him very dangerous. 

Stepping on a grave made you unclean for a week (cf. Numbers 29:16), so it was very important that they be well-marked. Hypocrisy does more than just lie before God and man. We are to have fellowship with one another in the light, but hypocrisy endangers those around us of missing that the hypocrite is spiritually dead and harmful.

Being noisy about what others should do, but not actually doing anything to help them (Luke 11:46). This isn’t just something that we should be doing with our actions, coming alongside one another in the various works of the six days, and in keeping the Lord’s Day together. But also, in our conversation—and for those of us in preaching and teaching offices—we need to be making much of Christ, as it is out of our union with Him by faith that the life and strength for genuine godliness comes. If there is little of Him in our talk, then we will be guilty of that unhelpfulness for which Jesus here condemns the lawyers.

Tolerance and/or cooperation with those who resist God’s Word and God’s servants (Luke 11:47-51). When we forget that these are personal attacks upon God, we go down the same path that for the generation in Luke 11 ended with their executing the Lord Jesus Himself. Jesus pointed to their love for the Scripture-twisting rabbinic tradition that went back even to those who opposed the clear and bold preaching of the prophets in the Old Testament. We need to be able to renounce, upon the Word of God, even that which has long-standing tradition.

Not only misusing God’s Word, but resisting its proper use by others (Luke 11:52). Those who do not like to emphasize the worship of God characterize godly piety as “pietism.” Those who do not like to emphasize obedience to God characterize joyous and zealous obedience as “legalism.” Such shaming caricatures hinder others from part or all of a proper knowing of God and His Word. 

And of course, those whom Jesus accused of doing these things immediately vindicated what He had said by responding not with repentance but by attacking Him for saying it (Luke 11:53-54)!

Of these seven, which might you more need to watch against? Why? How will you?

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

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

2021.01.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 1:1–16

Read 2 Samuel 1:1–16

Questions from the Scripture text: What are the time and location of this passage (2 Samuel 1:1)? What is the contrast between what Saul has just done and what David has just done? Who arrives, when, and in what apparent condition (2 Samuel 1:2)? What does he do? What is David’s first question (2 Samuel 1:3)? On whose side does the man claim to have been, and where? What is David’s second question (2 Samuel 1:4)? What does he report (as a subtle explanation for why he isn’t still there and then also why it was so urgent to find David)? What is the first part of the story that David cross-examines (2 Samuel 1:5)? How does the man explain his peculiar location to see what he saw (2 Samuel 1:6)? What does he claim to have seen? Who does he claim saw him (2 Samuel 1:7)? What does he claim that Saul asked him to do (2 Samuel 1:8-9)? But what does he give as his reasoning for delivering the death blow (2 Samuel 1:10)? What had he plundered, and what purpose does he imply for that? What is David’s first/immediate response (2 Samuel 1:11)? Who join him in this? What do they proceed to do until when (2 Samuel 1:12)? For which four specific entities? Now what does David ask (2 Samuel 1:13)? What does the man call the Amalekites? What, then, is David surprised about (2 Samuel 1:14)? Who has previously indeed been afraid to do that very thing (cf. 1 Samuel 26:9)? What does David now command (2 Samuel 1:15)? What reasoning does David give for the swiftness of the judgment and execution (2 Samuel 1:16)?

The Amalekite messenger thought he would not be mourning (2 Samuel 1:2), but that David would be happy to receive at last the kingship and its symbols (2 Samuel 1:10). He didn’t understand David. He didn’t understand a man whose depth of care for God’s anointed and God’s covenant people (2 Samuel 1:12) was a higher priority than either adjudicating a capital crime (2 Samuel 1:15-16) or his own personal ascent to the throne.

It must have been nerve-wracking for the Amalekite to witness the depth of their grief in 2 Samuel 1:11-12, wondering whether his ruse was going to work.  He had just enough of the details of Saul’s death. He knew enough of how to talk about things that David cross-examined him on his background in 2 Samuel 1:13, with the response that this Amalekite had grown up as an immigrant among the Israelites.

But what he didn’t know was to honor Yahweh. To know “the house of Israel” as Yahweh’s covenant people (2 Samuel 1:12b). To know Saul not merely as a rogue and rejected magistrate, but as the anointed of Yahweh. And this is what astonishes David: “how was it that you were not afraid to put forth your hand to destroy Yahweh’s anointed?”

The Amalekite had actually massaged the story a bit to get credit for the mercy-kill, to get credit for bringing the news, and to get credit for delivering the crown-goods. It didn’t cross his mind that his massaged message was self-incriminating of the highest possible crime! He just didn’t understand the difference it makes when Yahweh and His covenant are of the highest importance.

David understood those things, and that was why he himself did fear to put forth his hand against Yahweh’s anointed (cf. 1 Samuel 24:6, 1 Samuel 26:9). Do we understand it, dear reader? Are the things of Yahweh of the highest importance to us? Is the worship of God and the honor of His name more to us than all the prosperity issues and politics issues with which fleshly minds are consumed? Are first-table commandment issues of a higher order to us than second-table?

What personal issues in your life threaten to be more important to you than whether God’s people are under His discipline, or His Name is being dishonored among them?

Suggested songs: ARP137 “By Babylon’s Rivers” or TPH137 “By Flowing Streams in Babylon”

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

2021.01.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Corinthians 1:26–31

Read 1 Corinthians 1:26–31

Questions from the Scripture text: How many wise according to the flesh are called (1 Corinthians 1:26)? How many mighty are called? How many noble are called? Why has God chosen the foolish things of the world (1 Corinthians 1:27)? Why has God chosen the weak things of the world? Why has God chosen the base things of the world, and the things are despised, and the things which are not (1 Corinthians 1:28)? What does God want no flesh to do in His presence (1 Corinthians 1:29)? How did we come to be in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:30)? What four things is Christ Jesus for us? In what (whom!) should we glory, instead of ourselves (1 Corinthians 1:31)? 

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from 1 Corinthians 1:26–31, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Not What My Hands Have Done.

In this passage, God lowers our self-esteem. He reminds us that the world considers us foolish. He reminds us that, humanly speaking, we are weak. We are unimpressive, and of little earthly account.

The sooner that we just admit this about ourselves, the sooner we can get to the (literally) glorious reason for this: so that our only glory will be the Lord Himself! At the end of the day, the more we try to retain some wisdom, strength, goodness, or any other quality worthy of admiring, the less we will admire the Lord alone.

Sadly, many of us have not gotten this message. As individuals, we think that we will be so impressive to our unbelieving friends that they will just want to become Christians on the spot after they meet us! We harbor secret suspicions that if our fellow church members would just be a little more impressive, we’d be able to get more people to stick. Or even worse, we build up an entire array of programs and strategies for looking impressive, and think that it’s actually a good thing when people come and stay for them!

If only we would, more often, take out the 1 Corinthians 1:26–31 mirror and take a good long look and say, “the only thing genuinely impressive about me is Jesus.” If only we would, more often, take out the 1 Corinthians 1:26–31 mirror and take a good long look and say, “the only thing genuinely impressive about our congregation is Jesus—and He is the only thing that can ever be genuinely impressive about us.”

Is Jesus’s glory so small that we think we can add to it, or feel that it needs adding to? Do we think that we do anyone a favor by displaying ourselves, when they could have Christ displayed to them instead? Would it be healthy if they were drawn to us, when they would not have been drawn to Christ?

Here is God, the eternal Son, who has become a man; and, as a man, He has become for us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption! Glory!!! Surely, if one is not moved by this, it matters little if we can get him to think that we are warm, welcoming, and have much to offer him!

May the Lord save us from ourselves and our self-esteem… so that we may have eyes fully open to the glory of Christ, and rejoice in His glory among us!

About what are you tempted to be impressed with yourself or your church? How does this passage remind you to think about it instead? What are you hoping will draw people to Christ? If that is your hope, then how will you go about evangelizing them?

Suggested songs: ARP189 “Universal Praise” or TPH435 “Not What My Hands Have Done”

Monday, January 11, 2021

Sanctification, part 2 (2021.01.10 Sabbath School)

They who are once effectually called and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ's death and resurrection, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them: the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified; and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

The Power of Believers' Ordinary Faithfulness and Brotherly Love (2021.01.10 Evening Sermon in Ephesians 6:21–22)

God is often pleased to do extraordinary things through Christians' ordinary faithfulness and brotherly love.

The God Who Sometimes Bereaves Us in Almighty Mercy (2021.01.10 Morning Sermon in Genesis 42:29–43:14)

When God's providence hurts, our thoughts must be controlled not by the pain but by His precepts and promises.

2021.01.11 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?!)?

What dreadful effects an attitude of grumbling and self-pity can have upon ourselves and those around us!

It trains ourselves and others to fear God’s good providence instead of being thankful. “They [including their father] were afraid” in Genesis 42:35. Why? It’s a repeated, and increased, instance of the “what is this that God has done to us?” from Genesis 42:28. Rather than rejoice over God’s goodness to them, they mistrust His intentions. This is the result of having responded with murmuring to God’s previous mercy and goodness.

It gives us a blaming and accusing mindset. If the self-focus of our ingratitude is willing to mistrust God, it will not stop with Him! The sons have just finished telling Jacob that it was almost just one of them that returned, and he immediately accuses them of bereaving him of Joseph (little did he know; maybe he suspected?), Simeon (who obviously was not their fault, as they try to plead in Genesis 43:7), and Benjamin (prospectively, who isn’t yet gone and never will be!).

It makes us value God and others less. It’s hard to love and appreciate the family around you, when you’re focused on what you wish you had but don’t. 

“My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is left alone” (Genesis 42:38).  His ungrateful heart can’t even hear himself telling them that they have no value to him as sons or to Benjamin as a brother.

“If any calamity should befall him [who cares about you!] along the way in which you go, then you would bring down my gray hair with sorrow to the grave.” Nothing but Benjamin can move the needle on his contentment and joy. Not even God Himself.

Things were so bad that it actually occurred to Reuben that though Jacob might not enjoy the fellowship of his other sons, he might take some comfort from vengeance upon his grandsons (!, Genesis 42:37).

It makes us irresponsible. Apparently, Jacob was going to try to send them without Benjamin (Genesis 43:3-7). And, Jacob had ignored the problem, allowing them to run out of grain (Genesis 43:1) rather than keeping the supply uninterrupted by accounting for the time the trip would take (Genesis 43:10). Now they’re down to delicacies that would have been for special occasions and are needed for Israel’s bribe plan (Genesis 43:11). 

It puts us in danger of taking God’s Name in vain. We finally hear Jacob refer to God in Genesis 43:14. “May God Almighty give you mercy.” But, the real condition of his heart is revealed in slightly devaluing Simeon when he says “your other brother and Benjamin.” And it is especially exposed by his, “If I am bereaved, I am bereaved!” It’s a very fatalistic way of talking, not really consistent with confessing a God of might and of mercy!

Instead, we need to see God’s might and mercy behind even our bereavements. At the end of the day, we are sinners who have been granted the opportunity to know God as Savior through His promise and blood. When we see what God has committed Himself to and done for us in Christ, we are prepared to be grateful super-conquerors in any circumstance whatsoever! 

What has God done for you? What does that mean God is always doing for you?

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