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 23, 2021

2021.01.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 44

Read Genesis 44

Questions from the Scripture text: What did Joseph tell the steward to do in Genesis 44:1–2? Where, specifically, does he say to place the cup and each man’s money? When do the men leave, with what (Genesis 44:3)? What does Joseph tell the steward to do/say in Genesis 44:4–5? How do the brothers respond and with what logic (Genesis 44:6–8)? What two-pronged solution do they propose (Genesis 44:9)? How does the steward modify the proposal in Genesis 44:10? How does the search go, and with what result (Genesis 44:11-12)? How do the men respond, and how many go back, and with what (Genesis 44:13)? How are the men described in Genesis 44:14? What do they do? What does Joseph say to them (Genesis 44:15)? Who answers (Genesis 44:16)? What is his explanation for what has happened? How is his proposal different from Genesis 44:10? But upon what does Joseph insist (Genesis 44:17)? Where does Judah go in Genesis 44:18? For what does he ask? Of what does he remind Joseph in Genesis 44:19-23? What details does he fill in for Joseph in Genesis 44:24-29? What does he say will happen if Benjamin does not return (Genesis 44:30-31)? How does Judah support His request for substitution in Genesis 44:32? What substitution does he request (Genesis 44:33)? For whose sake (Genesis 44:34)?

Judah has gone through a remarkable transformation. We’ve known him as the brother who came up with the method for profiting off of Joseph’s supposedly inevitable death. We’ve known him as the Canaanite-marrying, lying and adulterous father-in-law. But we see that grace has done a marvelous work.

God uses Joseph to set us up for this, as the reigning vizier of Egypt tightens the noose… of each man’s sack around the money that has been carefully placed on top this time (Genesis 44:1-5). When the pressure is applied, the brothers make a foolish offer (Genesis 44:6-9), unwittingly proposing the execution of Benjamin! Joseph’s steward mercifully counters their one execution and ten slaves proposal with an offer of just one slave and no executions (Genesis 44:10). But, the proposal doesn’t turn out to be much better to them because the one turns out to be—alas!—Benjamin (Genesis 44:11-12).

So, it’s a torn-tunic trip back to the city for all of them (Genesis 44:13). But Genesis 44:14 gives an ever-so-subtle hint at what we are about to see when it refers to the eleven of them as “Judah and his brothers.” He’s the fourth born, but the Scripture is already implying that he has become the leader. What kind of leader is he?

He speaks with theological and spiritual honesty. “God has found out the iniquity of your servants” (Genesis 44:16).

He refuses to leave Benjamin back by himself. With the steward having let them off the hook, one might wonder whether the other eight whose slavery Judah volunteers in verse 16 were so voluntary about it as he. Joseph immediately highlights this discrepancy (Genesis 44:17).

He is bold to risk himself by attempting a private audience with Joseph (Genesis 44:18). 

He places not just Benjamin’s wellbeing ahead of his own, but especially his father’s (Genesis 44:19-31Genesis 44:34)—the same father who had basically told them that they were worthless to him, in their departing conversation.

He volunteers to be the substitute and pay the penalty (Genesis 44:33). And he does this in an attempt to keep a previously promised (to Jacob) commitment to do that very thing (Genesis 44:32).

This combination of spiritual honesty, sympathy, selflessness, self-sacrifice, courage, and honor did not come from Judah in himself. We know what he was like. Rather, they came by grace. They came from the One Who had committed Himself from all eternity to be our Substitute and Sacrifice. And Who became a Man, from the line of Judah, in order to do just that! 

And that means that everyone who believes in Jesus receives not only the forgiving grace of His substitutionary sacrifice, but also the same transforming grace that we see at work in Judah here. Look to Him for that grace!

In what ways do you hope that Jesus will transform you? How can you be sure that He will?

Suggested songs: ARP51AB “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

Friday, January 22, 2021

2021.01.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 1:1–2

Read Philippians 1:1–2

Questions from the Scripture text: From whom does this letter come (Philippians 1:1)? What are they? Of Whom? What Name of the Lord does He use? What title? To whom is this letter written? How many of them? In Whom? At where? With what two groups more specifically singled out? What two things does the apostle announce to them (Philippians 1:2)? From what two Persons? By which Names does He call each?

Philippians opens with a man-leveling, Christ-exalting bang. The address (Philippians 1:1) and greeting (Philippians 1:2) seem to follow customary form, but we mustn’t neglect their rich teaching.

Paul (and Timothy) is levelled. This is the only letter in which Paul begins by identifying himself as a “slave.” He doesn’t call himself apostle, which he does in most other letters. He doesn’t even use “servant” (sometimes translated as “minister” but the word from which we get “deacon”). He uses the Roman word for someone who has lost his personal liberty and belongs to a master. The apostle is already exemplifying the instruction in Philippians 2:5-7.

And the congregation in Philippi are leveled. He addresses the letter to “all” the saints, a small but important addition to the way he addresses churches in other letters. He wants to make sure that every single member of the Philippian church receives personally this letter of thanksgiving, encouragement and joy. And that includes the elders (overseers) and deacons—another unique feature of this letter: it’s the only one in which the apostle addresses both groups of officers directly. It’s not merely the “non-officers” of the church who need this word; the officers need it just as much. 

But Christ is supremely exalted. He is the Master of whom Paul is a glad slave. He is the One in Whom all the members of the church have been set apart, saint-ified as holy. But more than just being above all men, He is God Himself, One with God the Father (cf. Philippians 2:6), and the only source of all grace and peace. In Him is infinite blessedness—gloriously gracious news for those who deserve only curse. In Him is infinite strength—gloriously gracious news for those who have only weakness. And from Him comes the peace of God: all of Who God is for all the good that it can do us.

How best to start a letter of thanksgiving and joy and encouragement? By levelling men and exalting Christ!

Where does gladness to be Christ’s slave show? How do you respond to/depend upon Christ’s exaltedness?

Suggested songs: ARP45A “My Heart Is Greatly Stirred” or TPH374 “All Hail the Power of Jesus’s Name”

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Sweet Sleep under Stressful Siege When Yahweh Is Your Shield and Salvation (2021.01.20 Prayer Meeting Lesson in Psalm 3)

God gives us Psalms for specific times. God cares about hearing the details of our situation, v1–2. God's own details are the most important details of our situation, v3. When God's details are the most important, you may have assurance, peace, and courage, v4–6. God's salvation and judgment go together, v7–8.

2021.01.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 12:1–12

Read Luke 12:1–12

Questions from the Scripture text: How large was the crowd (Luke 12:1)? What is happening? But of which danger does He warn His disciples? What will happen with what they cover or hide (Luke 12:2)? With what they say secretly (Luke 12:3)? What shouldn’t they fear when speaking publicly (Luke 12:4)? Whom alone is worth fearing (Luke 12:5)? About what does He notice and care (Luke 12:6)? Whom does He notice more and about whom care more (Luke 12:7)?  Whom will Christ confess/acknowledge where (Luke 12:8)? Whom will He deny/denounce (Luke 12:9)? Whom will they have, Who will keep them from denying Christ (Luke 12:10)? What shouldn’t they do when under pressure to deny Him (Luke 12:11)? Why not (Luke 12:12)?

The Pharisees (Luke 12:1) thought they could put on a public persona while being something else in secret. Jesus warns that those secrets, and all secrets, will be openly revealed (Luke 12:2-3). Yes, one day there will be no more conspiracy theories—just the revelation of every conspiracy there has ever been, even your most personal ones!

Of course, believers have another reason they might be tempted to hide who they are in public: fear—not only of what others might think, but even legitimate fear for their lives (Luke 12:4). This has been God’s appointed providence to many of His saints across the world and down through the centuries, and we shouldn’t think that we will be exempt.

But there is a holy vaccine against this most viral and virulent fear: the fear of the Lord (Luke 12:5). In a blessed irony, fearing Him by faith in Christ means knowing Him not merely as Judge but as our heavenly Father who notices everything that happens to us and values us immensely (Luke 12:6-7).

Ultimately (literally), what matters is not what Facebook, Twitter, or a hostile government say about you now or do to you now, but what the Son says about you in glory, with the holy angels in the gallery (Luke 12:8-9). 

But the prospect of suffering exerts immense pressure upon us! How will we be able to publicly own our identity with Christ? The Holy Spirit will enable us (Luke 12:11-12). You might speak incorrectly of Christ at some point, but His indwelling and assisting Spirit is the seal and guarantee that you are forgiven (Luke 12:10).

So, take heart, dear Christian. There is a Triune conspiracy to bring you through the temporary troubles of a Christ-hostile world. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are determined that you shall at last be perfectly holy and perfectly happy forever, and that all who resist Christ will be dashed to pieces (cf. Psalm 2). 

Of what are you afraid in the current cultural moment? What can help you? Who will help you?

Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage” or TPH2B “Why Do Heathen Nations Rage”

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

2021.01.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 1:17–27

Read 2 Samuel 1:17–27

Questions from the Scripture text: What kind of song is this (2 Samuel 1:17)? Over whom? To whom did he teach it (2 Samuel 1:18)? What is it called? Where else is it written? What does he call Saul and Jonathan in 2 Samuel 1:19? What happened to them? Where does he not want it discussed (2 Samuel 1:20a-b)? Why—who live there, and what are they (verse 20c–d)? What place does he curse, and how, and why (2 Samuel 1:21)? For what does he commend Jonathan and Saul in 2 Samuel 1:22? How does he describe them in 2 Samuel 1:23? Which daughters does he wish would hear and respond (2 Samuel 1:24, cf. 2 Samuel 1:20)? How? Why? Who is the focus of the lament in 2 Samuel 1:25-26? What about him does verse 25 praise? verse 26? How does 2 Samuel 1:27 summarize/conclude?

We have been learning that the church in 2 Samuel 1 is in a disastrous condition, and that it is part of godliness to be grieved whenever this is the case. If we are to grieve for the church, we should do so differently than those who grieve as those who have no hope for their entities. That is to say that, like the apostle teaches the Thessalonians to do for one another (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18), our grieving over disastrous moments for the church should be theological. 

So the Holy Spirit spends Scriptural ink on a grief-song for Saul. Upon hearing that the former king is dead, David’s first act of leadership is to write this inspired grief-song and give an order (complete with title and web address for where to download it) that the children of Judah learn it (2 Samuel 1:17-18). 

Since God’s people will have much to lament, God has put many such songs into His own song book, for us to sing and pray not only together with each other, but together with the entire church throughout the ages. Thus, though it is good for us to be thoughtful and theological about grief, there is a strength and fellowship in Spirit-inspired lamentation that no merely human words can muster. 

What specific guidance does this Spirit-given grieving song give us for our grief?

Grieve most of all over the dishonor brought unto God, His name, and the people in whom He has most invested His reputation (2 Samuel 1:20). God’s honor is our (and everything else’s) purpose for existing, and whatever dishonors Him forfeits its right to exist (cf. 2 Samuel 1:21).

Grieve with gratitude for whatever good God has done—recognizing that sometimes, it is precisely the former abounding health and happiness and honor that make it so dismaying when these are turned back (2 Samuel 1:22-24).

Grieve with appropriate affection, even if the intensity sharpens the pain of it. In the last section, 2 Samuel 1:25 and 2 Samuel 1:27 form bookends to highlight and intensify 2 Samuel 1:26—David’s personal distress over the love of his brother Jonathan. It would not be right (though it might be more comfortable) to diminish his affection for him now.

What good is behind your current griefs? What situations in the church(es) are grief-worthy? How are you grieving over them? What part do Psalms of lament have in your singing and praying life?

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

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Sustaining and Perfecting Grace for Those Who Have Begun by Grace (2021.01.17 Evening Sermon in Ephesians 6:23–24)

God graciously gives, to those who have begun by grace, everything they need to stand in that grace, walk by that grace, and win by that grace.

Generosity Abounding to Chiefs of Paupers (2021.01.17 Morning Sermon in Genesis 43:15–34)

It is God's generosity that gives us every good thing—including and especially the grace by which we and others give either to Him or to one another. And this generosity is most supremely displayed in Christ, to Whom we ought to respond by giving our whole selves

Sanctification, part 3, WCF 13.2 (2021.01.17 Sabbath School)

This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man (cf. 1Thess 5:12–28)

2021.01.19 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)? 

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from 1 Corinthians 15:1–11, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with I Love to Tell the Story.

The apostle has already preached the gospel to them, and they received it, and in fact they are standing in it (1 Corinthians 15:11 Corinthians 15:11). So what does he declare to them now? The gospel again! The rest of their salvation is going to come from this gospel (1 Corinthians 15:2). Christ crucified for sins, buried, risen, and witnessed—all according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-7).

Believers don’t begin in the gospel and then move past it. The gospel is exactly what they need for every part of their growth and for everything through which they go. 

It also keeps the apostle himself thinking rightly. Our flesh would want to boast in what we have done or who we are. But the gospel that is all about who Jesus is and what He has done puts such self-glory in its proper place (which is to get rid of it altogether!). 

Even when identifying himself, for fullness and accuracy, as a witness and an apostle, Paul hurries to point out that he is “like one born out of due time” (1 Corinthians 15:8) and “the least of the apostles” (1 Corinthians 15:9). He names how bad he was (persecutor of the church), and attributes only to the grace of God what He is now (1 Corinthians 15:10).

This is what Paul loves to tell, and this is what the Corinthians should love to hear. Sanctified hearts will never weary of hearing the glorious gospel of Christ! 

From whom do you enjoy hearing the gospel? Whom do you enjoy telling the gospel? In what situations are you too tempted to talk about yourself? How might you work on avoiding doing so?

Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song to the Lord” or TPH438 “I Love to Tell the Story”

Monday, January 18, 2021

2021.01.18 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 verse 23? Where does he bring them (Genesis 43:24)? 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?

The brothers are pathetic. Starving, needy, desperate. Their “present” (bribe, Genesis 43:15Genesis 43:25Genesis 43:26) is pathetic. All the wealth of the world is flowing into Egypt, and they hope to buy off the vizier with some pistachios and honey. They think that they are worth something as slaves (Genesis 43:18), although in the years of famine slaves are more mouths to feed, and there isn’t enough labor to keep them busy. They think that their donkeys are some kind of prize (verse 18). 

Joseph’s generosity is powerful. How great, by comparison, is the expenditure of the generosity in just a couple words from Joseph, “slaughter a slaughter and make ready, for these men will dine with me” (Genesis 43:16). It’s so great that it doesn’t even occur to the brothers as a possibility (Genesis 43:18), and they hurry to explain themselves (Genesis 43:19-22). But he gives them not only food, but refreshment for themselves and even their pathetic donkeys (Genesis 43:24). He sympathizes with them in kind inquiry about their father (Genesis 43:27-28) and blessing their little brother (Genesis 43:29). And the “bread” of Genesis 43:25Genesis 43:31 turns out to be the feast commanded in Genesis 43:16 and portioned out by Joseph himself (Genesis 43:34), with a quintuple portion for Benjamin!

Because any generosity is really God’s providence. We use the word “providence” to remember that God has all goodness in Himself, and every good thing comes ultimately from Him. This is something that the steward has apparently learned from Joseph (Genesis 43:23). God is acting according to His Person (character), power, and promises. “Your God and the God of your father has given…” (verse 23) finds the source for the money in the same place as Joseph’s stated source for grace (Genesis 43:29). And of course it is God’s grace that could work such love and humility in Joseph unto the family that had previously treated Him so badly (Genesis 43:27-34).

In being part of God’s generosity to his brothers, Joseph becomes a picture of God’s greatest generosity. Except that when Jesus finally brings us joyously to table with Himself (cf. Genesis 43:34), it will be at the cost of His own sacrificing Himself for us sinners!

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”