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, February 06, 2021

2021.02.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Nahum 1:1–8

Read Nahum 1:1–8

Questions from the Scripture text: What is this prophecy called (Nahum 1:1)? Against whom? What is the scroll called? Whose vision? From what place? What does God declare about Himself in Nahum 1:2? What does He say three times? What does He say twice? What fact about Yahweh makes His vengeance and fury even more notable (Nahum 1:3a)? What fact about Him makes His vengeance and fury so dangerous? What makes His vengeance and fury sure—what will He not do (verse 3b)? What indicators has He given of the greatness of His coming vengeance and fury (verse 3c through Nahum 1:5d)? What questions do Nahum 1:6a-b ask? What is the implied answer? How does  verse 6c–d illustrate that answer? What other fact about Yahweh does Nahum 1:7a introduce? What does this make Him (verse 7b)? To whom—whom does He acknowledge and with whom does He identify (verse 7c)? But what is He going to do to Nineveh, with what (Nahum 1:8a-b)? What will pursue whom (verse 8c)?

Nahum takes us from the general to specific: general facts about God’s relation to His creatures (Nahum 1:2-3) and the impact this has upon them (Nahum 1:4-5), to what this means specifically for Nineveh (Nahum 1:8) and specifically for every reader and hearer of this prophecy (Nahum 1:6-7).

God uses an instrument like Nahum (Nahum 1:1)—but the point of the passage is not Nahum but Nahum’s God (Nahum 1:2-3). Among God’s perfections, in relation to a world that includes “adversaries and enemies” (Nahum 1:2), is the perfection of His vengeance. Among God’s perfections, in relation to a world that includes “the wicked” (Nahum 1:3), is the perfection of His righteous fury. Of course, the distinction between these two is not so stark, because His enemies are the wicked, and His fury is an expression of His jealousy and vengeance.

Behold your God! We like to say, “God is love.” But this is not His only perfection. Considering the context, we may also say with Nahum 1:2, “God is jealous.” “Yahweh is fury.” “Yahweh is vengeance.” Our flesh has difficulty wrestling with such characteristics of our God. But, the Spirit boldly sets Him forth before us.

Behold His power! We’re so impressed with whirlwinds and storms, which have their way with us. But, they are at the complete whim of Him Who has His way with them (Nahum 1:3). We cannot help what the clouds do to us, but He is so far over them as we are over the dirt that we don’t even notice until mama asks who tracked in some dirt.

Behold our world! The theme here is still God, but there’s a transition in the poetry in the end of verse 3, into Nahum 1:4, where the language pays more attention to the world as He impacts it. Seas, rivers, and mountains seem very grand and stable and powerful to us, but what are they doing in Nahum 1:4-5? Drying up, withering, languishing, quaking, melting, and heaving. 

From the general to the specific, Nineveh seems so stable and proud, but Nahum 1:8 tells us that it is in the same position as the world right before the flood in Genesis 6: about to be unavoidably (verse 8a), utterly (verse 8b) and relentlessly (verse 8c) destroyed.

But that brings us to the most important specificity, which is summarized in the rhetorical questions of Nahum 1:6 and the promises/declarations of Nahum 1:7

If this is the kind of God that the true and living God is, and if this is what impact His vengeance and fury have upon the most invulnerable created things, then who can stand before His indignation and anger (Nahum 1:6). The text demands that you and I each answer for ourselves, “certainly not I! I could never stand against His wrath!”

But if this is the level of His greatness, and if the only reason the wicked aren’t already destroyed is because He has restrained that anger for a time (Nahum 1:3a), then how great is the safety and the security of those whose refuge He is (Nahum 1:7). The only possible place of safety from Yahweh is Yahweh Himself!!

Goodness is also one of His perfections (verse 7a). Trusting in Him brings being joined to Him and identified with Him (verse 7c). So that His power works for us, rather than against us (verse 7b). He is a stronghold in the day of trouble. Yes, in all our temporary days of little troubles. But most importantly, He is a stronghold in that great day of infinite and eternal trouble for those who appear before Yahweh without Yahweh Himself—our Lord Jesus Christ—as their defense.

Romans 8:31–34. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

What place do God’s vengeance and wrath have in your understanding of and adoration of Him? In what troubles is He currently your refuge? How much do you live in light of the judgment day?

Suggested songs: ARP7B “God Is My Shield” or TPH389 “Great God, What Do I See and Hear!”

Friday, February 05, 2021

2021.02.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 1:7–8

Read Philippians 1:7–8

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle say about his confidence from Philippians 1:6 (Philippians 1:7)? Of whom does he think this? Where does he have them? In what two things have they been partakers with him? Of what are they all partakers with him? Whom does the apostle call as witness for the statement of Philippians 1:8? How much does he long for them? With Whose affection?

The apostle’s rejoicing over the Philippians came from a love that was inescapable, both judiciously and organically.

As Paul had been imprisoned for the gospel, they counted this imprisonment a grace, and sympathized with him in it. As Paul had defended the gospel, they had counted the opportunity and duty to defend the gospel a grace, and had sympathized with him in it. As Paul had confirmed/attested to the gospel, they had counted this testifying a grace, and had sympathized with him in it. 

Each of these ideas is legal in nature, and the apostle adds to them another: it is “right” for me to think this of you all. The heart here is not just the seat of the emotions. When he says, “I have you in my heart,” it means that “in all of my thinking, feeling, and responding, I sense that you are right there with me.” It is similar to what we mean when we say, “I can’t get you out of my mind” (not that we are trying to, you understand). 

So, his rejoicing over them comes from a love that is judiciously inescapable. It’s just right. It would be weird and wrong if he did not think/feel this way about them.

But it is also organically inescapable. For, as the apostle said in Philippians 1:1, he is a bondslave of Jesus Christ; and, as he implies in Philippians 1:6, his belonging to Christ has him laser-focused upon the day of Jesus Christ. Now, he says that his love for the Philippians comes from the fact that the longing that is in himself is actually a longing that has its origin/source in Jesus Christ Himself.

The word that NKJV translates “affection” is a physical word for the viscera—especially the heart, lungs, and liver. We might say “the guts” of Jesus Christ, or even paraphrase it, “how greatly I long for you all with Jesus Christ’s own visceral love for you.”

This is an astonishing statement! It is a reminder that our Redeemer sits bodily on the throne of glory—that He has viscera at all. But it reminds us even more that it was in everlasting love that the second Person of the Godhead took to Himself a body and soul in the first place. His love for us has been marvelously, physically expressed from womb, to the cross, to the tomb. 

And even now, the apostle’s love for the Philippian church is almost as much physical as it is emotional. He longs for them with the innards of Jesus Christ! As he becomes more and more conformed to his Savior, whose mind and life are being imparted to him, it is even physically impossible for the apostle not to love them.

Oh, how Christians ought to love one another—and especially those whose lives God has intertwined by making them walk together in service of the gospel. Such love is judiciously inescapable (it’s just right) and organically inescapable (the necessary result of union with Christ and conformity to Christ)!

With whom has the Lord given you to walk in service of the gospel? How have you experienced and expressed inescapable Christian love to them? How else ought you to?

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

Thursday, February 04, 2021

Morning Prayer to the God Who Hears, Forgives, and Gladdens Us (Prayer Meeting Lesson in Psalm 5)

We ought to begin the day (Ps 5) like we ended it (Ps 3–4): in prayer. This brings us before the God Who hears us, forgives us, and gladdens us in Himself.

Serving the Returning Master in Our Tasks at Our Time (Family Worship in Lk 12:35–59)

How should we respond to the reality of Christ’s return? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these twenty-five verses, the Lord Jesus teaches us not to focus upon the timing of His return but upon what He wants us to be doing for the duration of the time until then. We are to focus upon discerning our own time, and serving Him with all our might in the roles and tasks into which He has currently placed us.

2021.02.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 12:35–59

Read Luke 12:35–59

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Jesus command (Luke 12:35) as a way of maintaining treasure in heaven (cf. Luke 12:34)? What should disciples be like (Luke 12:36)? For Whom should they be ready? To welcome Him how quickly? What will the Master do for such disciples (Luke 12:37)? And what if the time is inconvenient (Luke 12:38)? But what can’t disciples know (Luke 12:39-40)? What does Peter ask (Luke 12:41)? How does the Lord respond (Luke 12:42)? To what kind of servant was Jesus talking (Luke 12:42-43)? How will the master reward him (Luke 12:44)? What other kind of servant is there (Luke 12:45)? What does he do to others? What does he do to himself? What will the master do to him (Luke 12:46-47)? In answer to Peter’s question, what difference does knowing these things make (Luke 12:48)? What will Jesus do at His return (Luke 12:49)? But to Whom will similar happen first (Luke 12:50)? What word does He use to describe it? How does He feel about it? What didn’t Jesus come to give (Luke 12:51)? What did He come to give? Along what lines will that division fall (Luke 12:52-53)? What do people say when (Luke 12:54)? What else do people say when else (Luke 12:55)? What does He call them (Luke 12:56)? Which time do they fail to discern? What/whom else do they misjudge (Luke 12:57)? What should they be sure to get done before they stand before the j(J)udge (Luke 12:58)? What if they don’t?

It is far more important that we discern the time that we are in (Luke 12:56), so that we may attend to serving His interests and always being ready for Him (Luke 12:35-36Luke 12:43), than that we figure out when the Master is returning. His coming will be unexpected (Luke 12:40Luke 12:46a)—and how much worse for those who are not focused upon serving Him well (Luke 12:45-46)!

Christ Himself is our great example for this. He (rightly!) desires His second coming, and the judgment and wrath that He will pour out (Luke 12:49). But He was focused upon the task before Him—going to the cross (Luke 12:50). 

And we are to be focused upon the task before us—aligning ourselves with Him, even if it costs us much conflict with those who set themselves against Him (Luke 12:51-53), serving Him constantly (Luke 12:35), responding to Him instantly (Luke 12:36), and resting in His sacrifice and righteousness by which we have been squared away for the judgment (Luke 12:58).

For those whose focus is upon following Christ, rather than full (Luke 12:59) and furious (Luke 12:49) wrath, they can look forward not only to the Lord’s pleasure in them and reward (Luke 12:42aLuke 12:44), but even His fellowship and kind attention to our own provision and joy (Luke 12:37bLuke 12:42b)!

Like our Lord, let our attention be upon the ways that He has appointed for us to be serving Him now, remembering that we are always before Him, always being tenderly and instantly responsive to Him in His means (Word, sacrament, prayer), and living as we will wish to have been “caught” doing when He returns.

In what roles has the Lord placed you? What parts of your obeying/serving Him need the most work?

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH389retu “Great God, What Do I See and Hear!”

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

The Functional Atheism of Bullies and Other Sinners (Family Worship in 2Sam 2:12–3:11)

Why does Abner overestimate his likelihood of success and Joab and Judah? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these thirty-two verses, we find a man who knows that Yahweh has sworn to give the kingdom to David, but who becomes comfortable resisting Yahweh’s king because by pushing around those men that he can. All sinners know that God is, and that He is a punisher of those who resist Him. But they lull themselves into functional atheism by a perceived ability to get what they want in the short-term.

2021.02.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 2:12–3:11

Read 2 Samuel 2:12–3:11

Questions from the Scripture text: Who go, where, in 2 Samuel 2:12? Who meet them, where, in 2 Samuel 2:13? Who proposes what in 2 Samuel 2:14? Who participate in the contest (2 Samuel 2:15)? How does it end up (2 Samuel 2:16)? What does the place come to be called? What then happens between whom in 2 Samuel 2:17? Whom does 2 Samuel 2:18 describe? What does Asahel do (2 Samuel 2:19)? When Abner learns that it’s Asahel (2 Samuel 2:20), what does he tell him to do (2 Samuel 2:21)? Does he? What reason does Abner give (2 Samuel 2:22)? How does it “end” (2 Samuel 2:23)? Who do what in 2 Samuel 2:24? What new development in 2 Samuel 2:25? How does the newly reinforced Abner propose a ceasefire (2 Samuel 2:26)? What does Joab say that the people would have done anyway (2 Samuel 2:27)? What does Joab do in 2 Samuel 2:28? Where does Abner end up (2 Samuel 2:29, cf. 2 Samuel 2:12)? How many had David lost (2 Samuel 2:30)? How many had they struck down (2 Samuel 2:31)? What did they do before they returned (2 Samuel 2:32)? Where did they end up (cf. 2 Samuel 2:11)? Of what was this battle a beginning (2 Samuel 3:1)? With what outcome? Whom does 2 Samuel 3:2-5 list/detail? While Saul’s house was getting weaker (2 Samuel 3:1), what was Abner doing (2 Samuel 3:6)? What was one way he did that (2 Samuel 3:7)? Who challenged him? In what manner does Abner respond (2 Samuel 3:8)? With what words? And what vow (2 Samuel 3:9-10)? How does Ishbosheth answer (2 Samuel 3:11)? Why?

Sometimes, we willingly allow local success and influence into deceiving them that they can act with impunity. A man who has little clout in the workplace or community may be a big tyrant to his family. A woman who is frustrated with how hubby runs the show may turn into a mama bear, not in defense of her cubs but in how demanding and demeaning she is toward them.

Enter Abner. In the increasingly weak kingdom of Ishbosheth (2 Samuel 3:1), he grew stronger and stronger (2 Samuel 3:6). He grew accustomed to dealing with the little king that couldn’t say anything (2 Samuel 3:11), and so felt bold enough to make a provocative move (2 Samuel 2:12) and a macabre proposition (2 Samuel 2:13-16). He appears every bit the part of the self-assured aggressor. 

On one level, his problem was that he hadn’t counted on how much stiffer the resistance (2 Samuel 2:17), swifter the pursuit (2 Samuel 2:18-19), and skillful the warriors (2 Samuel 2:30-31) would be from Judah. And God just keeps making His anointed stronger (2 Samuel 3:1–5). 

By the time Abner figures things out, it’s too late. In 2 Samuel 2:22, we can see that Abner can now see 2 Samuel 3:27 coming a mile (or 12) away. In 2 Samuel 2:26 the war-starter is suddenly complaining about what a terrible thing war is (even though Joab points out in 2 Samuel 2:27 that Judah was only maintaining their defense because they had to). And finally, in 2 Samuel 3:10, it seems that the general has concluded that the kingdom of Ishbosheth is a losing cause, and declares himself “Benedict” Abner in a temper-tantrum about Ishy’s completely understandable resistance to his play for the throne (2 Samuel 3:7, cf. 2 Samuel 16:20–23).

But there’s a much more terrible miscalculation on Abner’s part. He knows the words to “Christ Shall Have Dominion” (2 Samuel 3:9), but somehow the fact of David being God’s chosen king doesn’t seem to have factored at all into his previous decisions. He has known, the whole time, that Yahweh has sworn that David will be king from Dan (northernmost) to Beersheba (southernmost); but up until this point, he has submitted to and served only “king Abner.”

But Abner isn’t the only one. Romans 1 tells us that everyone knows that God is God (Romans 1:19–20), and even knows His law in their hearts (Romans 1:32, Romans 2:14–15). Psalm 2 tells us, however, that their response is to do whatever they can come up with to resist Him (Psalm 2:1–3)—which resistance Christ will shatter (Psalm 2:8–9). 

Even believers grievously miscalculate like this, so often, in our lives. Isn’t this what we do, whenever we do as pleases self instead of as pleases Christ? Our sin bothers us not only for its inherent wickedness, but because it denies the kingship of our Redeemer. But He is always present and always reigning. Let us not be deceived into asserting ourselves in sinful ways in those situations where we are more able to do so!

When is it easiest for you to get away with sin? How will you marshal the truth about God’s sovereignty to help you battle sin in those situations? What is your comfort when others, who are more able to oppress you in certain situations, take advantage of it?

Suggested songs: ARP7B “God Is My Shield” or TPH46A “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength”

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

How to Eat the Bread of Everlasting Life for the World (Family Worship in John 6:32–40)

What is infinitely better than the bread from heaven for which the people were asking in John 6? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these nine verses, the Lord Jesus declares Himself to be the bread from God Himself, for the whole world, that completely satisfies through everlasting life. The way to eat this bread is to come to Jesus and believe in Jesus—a coming and believing that God Himself gives, and which the Father and the Son are determined in almighty love and power to make perfectly effectual.

2021.02.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 6:32–40

Read John 6:32–40

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does Jesus say is the giver of true bread (John 6:32)? What is the bread of God (John 6:33)? For what do they ask (John 6:34)? What does Jesus call Himself in John 6:35? What two things will never be done again by a person who comes to Jesus for life? But what does Jesus say that His hearers are not doing (John 6:36)? Who will come to Jesus (John 6:37)? What will Jesus not do with those who come to Him? From where has Jesus come (John 6:38)? What has Jesus not come to do? What has Jesus come to do? Whose will does Jesus describe in John 6:39? To whom has the Father given particular people? What will Jesus not do with any of those people? What will Jesus certainly do with all of those people? What has the Father willed to give to everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him (John 6:40)? What will Jesus do with that person on the last day? 

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from John 6:32–40, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Come unto Me, Ye Weary.

The people had asked for bread like manna (cf. John 6:30-31). What could be better than free bread from heaven that is so nourishing and tasty (cf. Exodus 16:31Exodus 16:35) that the Scripture nicknames it “the bread of angels” (cf. Psalm 78:24–25)? 

The true bread from heaven is infinitely better (John 6:32-33). Manna gave earthly life to Israelites for forty years. The bread from heaven, the Lord Jesus Himself, gives life to the full, to the whole world, forever and ever.

Of course, they want this bread, and Jesus doubles up on the invitation. And what a marvelous invitation!: come to Jesus (John 6:35a), and believe in Jesus (verse 35b), and all true needs will be fulfilled (verse 35a–b). It is impossible that you be rejected (John 6:37). And, His supply and strength are so secure that it is impossible that you be lost and absolutely certain that you be raised to everlasting life (John 6:39John 6:40). 

So why don’t they accept it? Because they can’t. The ability to come to the Lord Jesus for life comes from the same Father, in the same electing love, and the same almighty power, as the Lord Jesus Himself. We can no more bring ourselves to the Lord Jesus, than we can bring the Lord Jesus down from heaven to us. The Father has to give both (John 6:32bJohn 6:44). 

And of course if the Father, Who gave Christ, now also gives to you to come to Christ, it is utterly impossible that you be lost! It is the Father’s resolute determination to save you, and the Son’s perfectly harmonious resolute determination to do it—repeated three times in John 6:37-38John 6:39, and John 6:40!

So, dear reader. Come to the Lord Jesus. It will be no excuse at last to say, “I can’t.” Indeed, if you feel that you cannot, be of good cheer. He Himself gives also the ability to come. And when you do, it will be with the gratitude of one who knows that the Lord has given all by His hand, and with the confidence of one who knows that you can never be taken from His hand (cf. John 10:27–30)!

In what ways are you have difficulty resting in and being satisfied by the Lord Jesus? Who can do something about that? If you come to Him, what will He do about it and for how long?

Suggested songs: ARP125 “All Like Mount Zion Shall Endure” or TPH443 “Come unto Me, Ye Weary”

Monday, February 01, 2021

Rejoicing over Christ's Work in Others Begun and Completed

What makes the apostle rejoice so much over the Philippians? 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!

The Great Comfort of God's Sovereignty in Our Grief, Repentance, and Planning (2021.01.31 Morning Sermon in Genesis 45:1–15)

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The reality of God's overruling sovereignty comforts us by His purposes in our grief, His goodness even through our own sins, and His perfect plan in the midst of our very uncertain ones.

The Irreconcilable War—Sanctification, part 5, WCF 13.2.3 (2021.01.31 Sabbath School)

Liberty to fight the flesh instead of one another. Liberty to keep the law instead of being condemned by it. Liberty to walk in the Spirit as our Almighty Ally. Liberty to crucify even desires ("battling" over "brokenness").

2021.02.01 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?

God’s sovereignty is at the core of this 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). 

And throughout the passage, that sovereignty is presented as a comfort: in our grief, in our repentance, and in our planning.

God’s sovereignty is a comfort in our grief. Indubitably, part of what makes Joseph unable to restrain himself in Genesis 45:1 is hearing Judah refer grievingly to his lost brother twice (Genesis 44:20, Genesis 44:28). How long has Judah felt like this about him? What time and fellowship has he lost with him by being “stuck” in Egypt? 

But there is comfort in knowing that our separations, and whatever we might have missed by it, has come in the perfection of the wisdom and plan of God. Twice, Judah has just referred to the lost brother, and now the lost brother himself responds with that initial, astonishing cry, “I am Joseph!!” 

God’s sovereignty is a comfort in our repentance. “Do not be grieved or angry with yourselves” is conditioned upon the repentance that Joseph has seen (cf. Genesis 44:16). Once a believer has come clean with God, it is time for trusting action (“hurry […] do not tarry,” Genesis 45:9), not the paralysis of self-loathing (Genesis 45:5).

Let us be careful that we not abuse this to rob ourselves of the good that grief and shame do us to bring us to repentance and faith. And certainly, let us not use this as an excuse to feel free to sin (cf. Romans 3:8, Romans 6:1). BUT, let us remember that even in our sinfulness from our sinful selves, God is doing that good that His good Self has planned and unstoppably carries out. 

God’s sovereignty is a comfort in our planning. Planning is fraught with discomfort. What we plan to do might not be wisest or right. Even if we plan it well, we may not be able to carry it out. Even if we are able to carry it out, it may not have the desired effect. 

But we are not the only ones planning! The history of Abraham’s family going to foreign parts—and especially to Egypt—has not been a happy one. The proposition from his sons may have been alarming to Jacob. Could he (should he?) really pick up stakes and move to Egypt? But it came in the context of a stunning revelation of how God’s plans are what are determining the outcomes. And those plans can be gloriously (literally, Genesis 45:13) surprising!

God will reassure Jacob later that this is the right thing (Genesis 46:1–4). But we can take comfort in the fact that, while it is with fear and trembling that we work out our salvation (Philippians 2:12), it is God Himself who is working in us (Philippians 2:13), and working all things together to good for us (Romans 8:28), as He works all things according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11)!

Over what loss are you grieving? Over what sin are you repenting? Over what decision are you agonizing? How is God’s sovereignty a comfort to you in each of these situations?

Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song to the Lord” or TPH105C “O Praise the Lord, His Deeds Make known”