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 30, 2021

2021.01.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 45:1–15

Read Genesis 45:1–15

Questions from the Scripture text: What couldn’t Joseph do in Genesis 45:1? What did he cry out? Who was left? What did he do? What else did he do in Genesis 45:2? Who heard? What did Joseph say to whom (Genesis 45:3)? What did he ask? What couldn’t they do? Why? Then what does he ask them to do (Genesis 45:4)? Now how does he identify himself—what detail does he add? But what does he tell them not to do (Genesis 45:5)? Why? What was happening? What information does he reveal to them in Genesis 45:6? What has God done (Genesis 45:7)? For what two reasons? In comparing both actors, whose action was small enough as not to count (Genesis 45:8)? Whose action overruled? Where did God send Joseph? Into what three positions/statuses was He bringing Joseph? To whom does Joseph now send them (Genesis 45:9)? At what pace? Whose message are they to deliver? What are they to say in Joseph’s behalf? What does Joseph want his father to do? When? Where would Jacob dwell (Genesis 45:10)? Near to whom? With whom? And whom else? With what? And what else? What will Joseph do (Genesis 45:11)? To prevent what? Why is this necessary? Now what does Joseph point out to his brothers in Genesis 45:12? What does he tell them to tell Jacob in their own behalf (Genesis 45:13)? How does he summarize their mission? What does he reemphasize about its speed? Then what does Joseph do to whom (Genesis 45:14)? And what does he do? What two other things does Joseph do to whom in Genesis 45:15? Then what are they finally able to do with him?

The Holy Spirit makes it rather easy to see the main point of the passage:

“God sent me before you to preserve life” (Genesis 45:5).

“God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth and save your lives by a great deliverance” (Genesis 45:7).

“So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 45:8).

“God has made me Lord of all Egypt” (Genesis 45:9).

It is exactly this sovereign control and perfect wisdom of God that the brothers (and even Jacob) have failed to grapple with. This is why they are dismayed in Genesis 45:3. Perhaps Joseph is na├»ve to think that they are upset with themselves in Genesis 45:5. Perhaps he can see something that we don’t. From their behavior so far, and how they’ll still be thinking in another 17 years (cf. Genesis 50:15–18), it certainly seems that they are primarily afraid of revenge. But God’s sovereign control and wisdom is exactly why revenge is the last thing on David’s mind (cf. Genesis 50:19–21).

Joseph’s message is simple: your sin is culpable, but shouldn’t cause dismay or paralysis. Rather, be grateful for what God has done, and respond in kind. With five more years of famine coming, now is the time for decisive action to lay hold of that deliverance that God has provided (Genesis 45:6Genesis 45:9-11Genesis 45:13). “Hurry,” he tells them at the beginning of Genesis 45:9, and he tells them to say the same thing to their father, “do not tarry.” Again in verse 13, “you shall hurry and bring my father down here.”  

Yet, it is only after he has not only wept over Benjamin (Genesis 45:14), but kissed and wept over them (Genesis 45:15) that the brothers feel free to talk with him again. The dismay dissolves, and the paralysis passes. Whether it is the forgiveness of others who meant evil and did evil, or the need to take quick and decisive action, what we need for the task before us is to recognize God’s sovereign control and perfect wisdom.

Whom do you need to forgive? What has God done for you through their harmfulness? What dismaying or deflating situation are you in? How does God’s control over it and wisdom in it free you to take decisive action?

Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH231 “Whate’er My God Ordains Is Right”

Friday, January 29, 2021

Rejoicing over Christ's Work Begun and Completed (Family Worship in Philippians 1:3–6)

What makes the apostle rejoice so much over the Philippians? Pastor leads his family in tomorrow’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these four verses, the apostle expresses abounding joy over the Philippians’ receipt of the gospel, growing in the gospel, and participation in his own ministry of the gospel—most of all because he is laser-focused upon the Day of Christ, and these are all indicators of a begun-work that will be gloriously completed in that day!

2021.01.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 1:3–6

Read Philippians 1:3–6

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle do, to Whom, about whom (Philippians 1:3)? When? What else does he do in his prayers (Philippians 1:4)? In how many of them? With what emotion/affection? Especially for what does he request and thank (Philippians 1:5)? In what have they had fellowship? When/how long? With what other emotion/affection (Philippians 1:6)? Who began what? In whom? What else will He do? Until when?

In Hebrews 13, the Holy Spirit teaches us to care about whether we are making it a joy for Christ’s appointed spiritual leaders to shepherd our souls. The Philippians seem to have taken such teaching to heart, as the apostle Paul testifies of how joyously he both remembers and prays for them (Philippians 1:3-4).

Later in the letter (Philippians 2:12–13), he will specify how the completion of God’s work in them will come about. But here, he highlights it as the cause of his joy. He’s not just grateful that they are sharing in and supporting his ministry (Philippians 1:5), or that they’re behaving better than those more troublesome congregations in Galatia and Corinth. He’s rejoicing that these are evidences of a divine work that has been begun in them.

All of God’s works aim at one thing: the day of Jesus Christ. The day when Christ returns. The day when Christ judges. The day when Christ is glorified by the perfect completion of His work in every single one whom He has saved. The day when we come into the final and full experience and enjoyment of Him and His glory forever.

The day of Jesus Christ is what God is aiming at as He works in His people. And when they give evidence of this gracious work and its guaranteed completion, it is a joy to those whom He has appointed as shepherds in that work.

By what earthly shepherds is Christ continuing His work in you? How are you bringing them joy by your fellowship in the gospel with them? How are you aiming at the day of Jesus Christ in all that you do?

Suggested songs: ARP87 “The Lord’s Foundation” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place”


Thursday, January 28, 2021

Beware the Deceitfulness of Covetousness (Family Worship in Luke 12:13–34)

What does covetousness look like in our hearts? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these twenty-two verses, our Lord Jesus exposes that sometimes covetousness in our hearts is disguised as righteous indignation, sometimes as planning or preparedness, sometimes as celebration or enjoyment, and sometimes even as worry or anxiety.

Responding Rightly to Distresses by Resting in Christ and His Righteousness (2021.01.27 Prayer Meeting Lesson in Psalm 4)

Some respond to distress by betrayal, some by fury, and some by despair. But we must respond by remembering our God's character, commitment, and consistency as He takes us for Himself in Christ and His righteousness.

2021.01.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 12:13–34

Read Luke 12:13–34

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the man in Luke 12:13 want Jesus to do? What does Jesus ask him (Luke 12:14)? Of what does He tell them to beware (Luke 12:15)? Why? What then does He speak to them in Luke 12:16? Who is its main character? What does his ground do? What problem does this present in Luke 12:17? What does he decide to do in Luke 12:18? To whom does he speak in Luke 12:19? Of what does he inform his soul? What does he command his soul? Who speaks to him in Luke 12:20? What does He call him? What will be required of him when? What problem does this pose? Who is like that rich man—what two things are true of him (Luke 12:21)? To whom does He speak in Luke 12:22? What does He tell them not to do? About what? Why (Luke 12:23)? What should they consider (Luke 12:24)? What don’t ravens do? Who feeds them? About what comparison does He ask? What does He ask in Luke 12:25? What does He ask in Luke 12:26? What are they to consider in Luke 12:27? Who clothes them (Luke 12:28)? What does Jesus ask in verse 28? What does He call them? What does He tell them not to do in Luke 12:29? Not to have? Who seek them (Luke 12:30)? Who knows about the needs? What, then, are they to seek (Luke 12:31)? What will happen? What else are they not to do (Luke 12:32)? What does Jesus call God here? What well-pleases Him? What should they do (Luke 12:33)? What will this provide for them? Where? With what advantages? What will also be there (Luke 12:34)?

Covetousness deceives us in many ways (Luke 12:15). Jesus’s answer to the man in Luke 12:13 exposes what was really behind his (possibly right) inheritance claim: the desire to possess an abundance of things, which is the path to destruction and perdition (cf. 1 Timothy 6:9–10). 

The rich man in Luke 12:16-20 is a fool, because he sees enjoying himself as his primary purpose and the storing up of wealth as the way to achieve it. But his covetousness has deceived him into forgetting that he actually exists for God and that our souls will long outlive anything we store up in this world.

The poor (or middle class) also reveal that they are making the same mistake, whenever they worry about earthly provision. Food and clothing are actually basic necessities (cf. 1 Timothy 6:6–8). But to worry about them is to forget that God exists, that He cares about us as a Father.

If it is the Father’s pleasure to give us the kingdom (Luke 12:32), then don’t we know that it is also His pleasure to take care of everything that is needful as He does so (Luke 12:31)? The reason that the charitable act in Luke 12:33 provides “money bags in the heavens” is not that it is a meritorious work, but rather that it is a work that flows from a heart that is freed to that giving by the certainty that my Father will still take care of me.

If He is my Treasure, then my heart will be freed from the deceitfulness of covetousness to serve Him (Luke 12:34). Is your heart freed by trust in Him?

What earthly possessions are precious to you? What are you trying to accumulate? What are you worried about in the near/longer future? How do each of these threaten to keep you earthly-minded?

Suggested songs: ARP100 “All Earth with Joy” or TPH532 “Be Still, My Soul”


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

2021.01.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 2:1–11

Read 2 Samuel 2:1–11

Questions from the Scripture text: What two things does David ask of Whom in 2 Samuel 2:1? What answers does Yahweh give? Who go with him (2 Samuel 2:2)? Whom else (2 Samuel 2:3)? Whom do they bring? Who come in 2 Samuel 2:4? To do what? What is the first thing they tell him, upon his inauguration? What does he do in response (2 Samuel 2:5)? Who and who else does he say will repay them (2 Samuel 2:6)? What does he tell them to do (2 Samuel 2:7a) and for what two reasons (verse 7b)? But who does what, to whom, where (2 Samuel 2:8)? Over whom (2 Samuel 2:9)? Who did what for how long in 2 Samuel 2:10? Who followed David? Who did what, where, over whom, for how long (2 Samuel 2:11)? 

David has been anointed king by God’s prophet for a very long time. In this passage, he is finally anointed king in Israel. A small section of Israel, anyway. Hebron/Shechem is by the cave of Machphelah, with the bones of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The location and the tribe are important, but small.

Of course, what God’s prophet/Word have said isn’t that important to Abner, son of Ner. He’s been chairman of the joint chiefs, as it were, and he doesn’t intend on giving up his position (2 Samuel 2:8). The church is full of Abners and Alexanders (the coppersmith of 2 Timothy 4:14). Their influential position is worth enough to throw God’s appointed man under the bus. So, Abner installs Ishbosheth, and all Israel follows for two years (2 Samuel 2:9-10).

Everyone except, perhaps, the men of Jabesh Gilead. Though Jabesh Gilead isn’t in Judah, the men of Judah have taken note of their bravery when all the rest of Israel fled in 1 Samuel 31:7–13. Perhaps, the men of Judah are suggesting that such a group may be willing to go it alone with new king in 2 Samuel 2:4. At the very least, they would know that loyalty, bravery, and proper mourning are extremely important to David (cf. 2 Samuel 1).

So, David not only commends and blesses them (2 Samuel 2:5-6), but also informs them of the next opportunity to go against the crowd to do the courageous and right thing (2 Samuel 2:7).

In every age of the church, doing things God’s way, and honoring and being led by His appointed men, puts us in a minority. But, it is always blessed and victorious to be in a minority with God. We know the rest of the story—that God’s anointed king comes out on top. That’s true whether you’re the men of Jabesh Gilead being invited to follow David in 2 Samuel 2, or if you’re in a small minority of those committed to Christ’s own ways in His church in 2021. God’s anointed King always comes out on top.

What are some ways in which churches are tempted to choose their own way of doing things instead of following King Jesus? What might be the cost for being in the minority who follow Him? But what will you gain?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH542 “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus”


Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Man Leveled, and Christ Exalted, by His Grace (2021.01.24 Evening Sermon in Philippians 1:1–2)

Christ's grace exposes how we have all been leveled in the fall, by raising us up only in Him—by which He is exalted not only as our only hope, but as very God of very God… the God of grace and peace!

Christ's Grace That Forgives Us and Transforms Us (2021.01.24 Morning Sermon in Genesis 44)

Sometimes, when the Lord puts our faith to the test, part of the reason is to display His work of His grace that He has been doing in us.

Sanctification, part 4, WCF 13.2.2 (2021.01.24 Sabbath School Lesson)

WCF 13.2
This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man;(g) yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some remnants of corruption in every part:(h) whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war; the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.(i)
(g) I Thess. 5:23. (cf. 5:12–28)
(h) I John 1:10 (cf. 1:5–10); Rom. 7:18, 23 (cf. 7:14–25); Phil. 3:12 (cf. Php 3:7–16).
(i) Gal. 5:17 (cf. 5:13–26); I Pet. 2:11.

2021.01.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 55

Read Isaiah 55

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does Isaiah 55:1 address? What does it tell them to do? Without what? What questions do Isaiah 55:2 ask? What does it say to do instead? With what commands does Isaiah 55:3 further define “coming” and “buying”? What does God say that He will make/cut with them? How does He describe this covenant? As what three things does Isaiah 55:4 say that this “David” is given to the people? Whom else will this David/Anointed/Messiah/Christ call (Isaiah 55:5a-b)? Why/how/when (verse 5c-e, cf. John 12:27–32)? What two things does Isaiah 55:6 say to do? When? For what does this imply a limited time? How does Isaiah 55:7 further define this seeking and calling? What two things are to be forsaken? What two things will Yahweh do? Whose God does it call Him? How does Isaiah 55:8 relate to verse 7a–b? What does Isaiah 55:9 add as a primary difference (in addition to not being wicked, cf. verse 7a–b)? What does rain do—and not do—until when (Isaiah 55:10)? What similarly will do—and not do—what (Isaiah 55:11)? What will those redeemed from wickedness do (Isaiah 55:12a-b)? What else will do what with them (verse 12c-e)? What will replace what (Isaiah 55:13a-b)? What is being undone? What will be displayed (verse 13c–d) for how long? 

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Isaiah 55, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Wretched.

The chapter begins with images of thirst (Isaiah 55:1 a–b,e)  and poverty (verse 1c) and hunger (verse 1d, v2) and purchase (verse 1 d, f, Isaiah 55:2 a–b) and slaking thirst (verse 1e, verse 2b) and eating (verse 2c). These are images that look forward to Jesus’s own preaching in His earthly ministry. And, as with Jesus, these are illustrations for spiritual neediness and satisfaction.

The command to listen (Isaiah 55:2c) is tied to the promise about the Word in Isaiah 55:10-11. This instruction is not about physical neediness and provision (though the Lord does that too). Rather, it is about how the once-condemned soul can come to delight (verse 2d) and live (Isaiah 55:3b). The condemnation has been borne by another (chapter 53), the blessedness has been announced (chapter 54), and now with a dozen imperatives in the first seven verses, the prophet urges the most unlikely candidates possible to come into that blessedness.

The mechanism by which that blessedness comes is listening (Isaiah 55:2c), coming to the Lord by the inclining of the ear (verse 2c), and hearing (Isaiah 55:3b). But how can we, who are dead, do even this? We are acquainted with the frustration of sitting before our Bibles or under preaching, unable even to focus our thoughts upon the Word, let alone warm our hearts by it, or stir up our wills to keep it. Even in the hearing of the Word, it is the Word itself that does the work. God Himself has sent it, like rain, with the life and power within it to restore that which is parched (Isaiah 55:10). And He has commanded that His own life-giving provision will not fail (Isaiah 55:11).

Our assurance of this is established not only by God’s power to be able to give our souls life, and His declared plan that this is how the life comes, but especially in His everlasting covenant promise by which He has pledged Himself to us (Isaiah 55:3c). This covenant has been made in the greatest possible grace (“sure mercies”—immovable faithful ḳessed) and Guarantor (“David”—Christ, great David’s infinitely greater Son, the forever-King of 2 Samuel 7).

This is great news not only for Israelites (Isaiah 55:4), but for sinners from all the nations (Isaiah 55:5a-b), who have been promised to Christ (verse 5c–e). For, we all have the spiritual poverty (wickedness and unrighteousness!, Isaiah 55:7a-b) that is a prerequisite for this blessedness. If we turn to Him (verse 7c, e), we receive not only mercy (verse 7d) and forgiveness (verse 7f), but even those infinitely (Isaiah 55:9a) godly and righteous thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8, verse 9b–c) that we utterly lack (Isaiah 55:7a-b, Isaiah 55:8-9). 

You cannot turn over a new leaf to come to God; rather, if you turn to Him, He provides the new leaf—a new and eternal life! This is why our rejoicing in this utter blessedness (Isaiah 55:12a-b) and complete reversal of all curse (verse 12c–Isaiah 55:13b) is a credit not to us but to the everlasting honor and praise of Yahweh (verse 13c–d)!

What life do you have from yourself? By what mechanism, especially, has Christ given you to have vitality from Him? What use are you making of it? How do you respond when He gives it to you?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH440 “Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Wretched”

Monday, January 25, 2021

2021.01.25 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)? 

In this chapter, Judah’s character and leadership seem to blossom. Joseph puts them through the ultimate test to see if they will turn on Benjamin, but Judah comes out self-sacrificing and courageous. He even understands God’s sovereign providence and admits their guiltiness (Genesis 44:16). This really brings to the forefront two questions.

The first is: how? How did Judah get to be like this. So far, what we have primarily seen from him is that he thought it would be a good idea if they turned a profit off of Joseph’s demise and didn’t have to get their own hands dirty (Genesis 37:25–28), and that he was a covenant-people-abandoning, daughter-in-law abandoning philanderer (cf. chapter 38).  So how does that man from chapters 37–38 become this man of chapters 43–44, especially as we see him in this chapter?

Grace. Grace actually transforms people from the heart.

And that brings us to the second question: why? We know that this can only happen by God’s changing Judah. But Judah doesn’t deserve to be changed. Now, that’s an important point for us, dear reader, because neither do we deserve to be changed—even though that’s the only hope we have. 

God has forgiven Judah. For the sake of his coming descendant, our Lord Jesus Christ Who will receive as Judah deserves, Judah can receive what Christ deserves for him—that he would be transformed. 

For us whom He transforms, there’s another layer to this why. There’s the why of what caused it: God’s free forgiveness in Jesus Christ. And there’s the why of for what purpose we are forgiven: to bring glory to Jesus Christ, to the praise of God’s glorious grace.

In this chapter, Judah is being used to advance the deliverance of the family from famine. But he is being used to do something much bigger than that: to bring glory to Jesus Christ as the One Who wins not bare forgiveness, but also transformation in which we are renewed in our hearts and actions unto the praise of His grace!

What opportunities do you have to show Christ’s grace in/toward you? How can you be enabled to take them?

Suggested songs: ARP51B “From My Sins, O Hide Your Face” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”


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”


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”


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”