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 20, 2021

2021.02.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 46:5–30

Read Genesis 46:5–30

Questions from the Scripture text: Who arises from where (Genesis 46:5)? Who are carried in which carts? What do they take with them (Genesis 46:6)? To where? Whom does he bring with him (Genesis 46:7)? How does Genesis 46:8 introduce the next section? Who is named first? Who are his children (Genesis 46:9)? Who is second (Genesis 46:10)? Who are his children? Who third, and what children (Genesis 46:11)? Who fourth (Genesis 46:12)? What sons don’t come and why? What children/grandchildren come? Who is named fifth, with what children (Genesis 46:13)? Who sixth, with what children (Genesis 46:14)? What did all of these have in common (Genesis 46:15)? Who else is in this group? How many altogether? Who is named seventh, with what children (Genesis 46:16)? Who eighth, with what children (Genesis 46:17)? What did these two have in common (Genesis 46:18)? How many were in this group? Which group is named third (Genesis 46:19)? Who were already in Egypt (Genesis 46:20)? Who was the other son (Genesis 46:21)? What children did he have (verse 21)? How many were in this group (Genesis 46:22)? What son of Jacob is named 11th, with what child (Genesis 46:23)? What son 12th, with what children (Genesis 46:24)? What did these two have in common (Genesis 46:25)? How many were in this grouping? How many total went to Egypt that came from the body of Jacob (Genesis 46:26)? How many did this make in total (Genesis 46:27)? Of all of these, whom does Jacob send in Genesis 46:28? To whom? To do what? What does Joseph do (Genesis 46:29)? Where does he go? To whom? What does he do when he gets there? What does Israel say can/should happen now (Genesis 46:30)? Why?

There’s something bitter-sweet about Jacob’s statement in Genesis 46:30. At some level, he is recognizing that the Lord has been working marvelously in ways that he couldn’t see. Joseph wasn’t dead. Joseph was alive. And Joseph had been exalted to the pinnacle of Egypt. Egyptian wagons brought the family down (Genesis 46:5), and the chariot of the Egyptian vizier brought Joseph from his palace to Goshen (Genesis 46:29).

But, the bulk of the passage focuses upon something that Jacob had not been able to see clearly: how greatly God had multiplied him. Sixty-six persons who had come from his own body went to Egypt with him (Genesis 46:26), and that doesn’t even count sons’/grandsons’ wives. And the mention of Dinah in Genesis 46:15, and of Serah in Genesis 46:17, seems to imply that of these, a statistically improbable majority were male. 

After the first couple generations of the Abrahamic covenant, this was an astounding explosion of the growth of the kingdom! That’s one reason that it’s helpful to bumble slowly through genealogical lists like this. Even the difficulty (to us) of the names can be helpful, if we don’t just skip over, but slog through instead. 

Each one of these is the life of a member of the visible church, and a testimony to God’s faithfulness to build this family of Abraham through which would come the Seed in Whom all the families of the earth would be blessed. Indeed, such membership rolls of the church should provoke gratitude not boredom, as every name is a testimony to the mercy and faithfulness of God. 

And often, God’s gracious work in their life is quite evident, as we could see with Judah, whom Jacob sends in Genesis 46:28. It has been a marvelous turnaround for this (humanly speaking) forefather of our Lord Jesus. Can Jacob see how marvelous the work of God has been in those years through which he had despaired and moped?

Perhaps his statement in Genesis 46:30 isn’t continuing that unbelief. It calls him “Israel” at this point, after all. But it at very least calls to our attention the evidences of God’s grace in this family generally, and in Judah specifically, that unbelief had hidden from Jacob’s eyes for so many years. 

But rather than congratulate ourselves for catching some of what Jacob had missed, we ought probably to ask ourselves: do I have eyes to see God’s gracious working in me and through me? Do I trust, even without being able to see it, that He is graciously doing so—simply because His true and sure Word says so? May His Spirit give us such eyes and such trust!

What circumstances are discouraging you? What evidence is there of God’s patience and mercy toward you? What evidence is there of His gracious work in and/or through you? Why don’t you even need life-evidence to be able rejoice over it? Where can you find word-evidence to stir up Hebrews 11:1 faith?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH257 “Children of the Heavenly Father”

Friday, February 19, 2021

The Goodness and Glory of God's Wrath (Prayer Meeting Lesson in Psalm 7)

The justness (toward us) of God's wrath, v1–5
The equity (toward enemies) of God's wrath, v6–8
The certainty of God's wrath, v9–10
The fury of God's wrath, v11–13
The aptness of God's wrath, v14–16
The praiseworthiness of God's wrath, v17

Emboldened by Knowing that Christ Always Furthers His Gospel (Family Worship in Philippians 1:12–14)

Why, and what, does the apostle want us “to know”? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these three verses, we hear how the apostle viewed his life (as he did the Philippians’) as part of Christ’s work in furthering the gospel. He shows how this was true of his chains, reports how the soldiers knew this, and how the church in Rome were emboldened by knowing this, desiring that the church in Philippi would also be emboldened by knowing it. We too may be emboldened to speak the Word by the knowledge that the Lord is always advancing the Gospel.

2021.02.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 1:12–14

Read Philippians 1:12–14

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle want (Philippians 1:12)? What does he call them? What resulted from what happened to him? What has become evident (Philippians 1:13b)? To whom (verse 13a)? What has happened to most of the brethren (Philippians 1:14)? 

There’s something marvelous about a Christian who is able to see his own circumstances as a little part in the whole of what Christ is doing in the world. The apostle had viewed the Philippians’ conversion and spiritual growth and ministry that way (cf. Philippians 1:5-7), and we now see him encouraging them to have the same view of his own situation: “I want you to know” (Philippians 1:12).

There’s a lot of “knowing” in the Christian life. And one of the most important things to know is that Christ is always furthering His kingdom, furthering His gospel (verse 12)—and that the circumstances of our lives are part of that unfolding history. 

For Paul, he got to be right on the bleeding edge of it. “Furtherance” is a military word like “advance,” and that’s exactly where the gospel had been advancing. The palace (praetorian) guard of Philippians 1:13 were elite soldiers. There aren’t many sound and godly ministers invited to be embedded with elite soldiers. So, while others might have see the apostle’s chains as a setback (cf. Philippians 1:16), he himself saw it as an advance.

The soldiers would have rotated “Paul duty,” taking turns being chained to him while he was under house arrest in Rome (cf. Acts 28:16). And what would this soldier have told the others, when he was coming off his shift? “You should have heard him praying for those Philippians again—always with so much joy and thanksgiving, that they would grow in love and be filled with fruits of righteousness from Jesus Christ.” Indubitably, Paul would have also been telling these soldiers about Christ. And, the result was that many of the palace guard saw that Paul wasn’t in chains for being a criminal, but because he was enlisted in the service of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who had sent the apostle there for them.

How the Philippian church would have rejoiced! Philippi, after all, was a colony settled largely by retired Roman soldiers. Paul’s ministry to the “special forces secret service” of Rome had encouraged and emboldened the brethren in the church there to evangelize (Philippians 1:14), and he is eager that it would have the same effect upon his brethren back in Philippi.

And oughtn’t it have the same effect upon us? When we see our circumstances as part of Christ’s program for advancing His kingdom, we are no longer discouraged by them. Instead, we look to Him to grow us and make us effective wherever we are in whatever He has given us to do. And, we learn to sympathize with suffering brethren not in a downcast or despairing way, but alongside prayers for their ultimate deliverance, praying that they would be sustained by grace in this believing attitude, and that they would get to see effectual fruit from their service.

What difficult circumstances in your or others’ lives have got your attention right now? How does this passage teach you to think about them? What might you do differently if you saw them as part of Christ’s advance? How can you act on the Spirit’s/apostle’s desire for “you to know”?

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

Thursday, February 18, 2021

2021.02.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 13:10–21

Read Luke 13:10–21

Questions from the Scripture text: What was Jesus doing (Luke 13:10)? Where? When? Who else was there (Luke 13:11)? What had caused her infirmity? For how long couldn’t she do what? Who saw her in Luke 13:12? What did He say to her? What did He do to her (Luke 13:13)? What happened, how quickly? How did she respond? Who else responds (Luke 13:14)? With what attitude? Why? Whom does the ruler of the synagogue address? What does he tell them to do? What does he tell them not to do? Whom does Luke 13:15 say answers? What does the Lord call the ruler? What does the Lord point out that they do for whom/what? What does the Lord call the woman (Luke 13:16)? Who had bound her? For how long? What was a good day for Satan’s bond to be broken? What did the Lord’s sayings do to whom (Luke 13:17)? But what did the multitude do? For what? What does He then ask (Luke 13:18)? Like what does He say the kingdom is (Luke 13:19)? What did the man in the word picture do to it? What happened to the mustard seed? What does He ask in Luke 13:20? Like what does He now say the kingdom is (Luke 13:21)? What did the woman in the word picture do to it? What happened to the leaven?

In Luke 13:18–21, Jesus is basically saying, “you’ve hardly seen anything yet.” Verse 18 starts with “then” (“δέ” i.e., “but/and” for the Greek readers), letting us know that Luke gives us Jesus’s comments in connection with Luke 13:10–17 as a whole, and verse 17 specifically. 

It was a pretty big deal. Satan himself had doubled over this poor woman for 18 years (Luke 13:16), but Jesus had declared the Sabbath as “Freedom From Satan Day” (n.b. His “ought” in verse 16, which is the same Greek word as the ruler’s “ought” in Luke 13:14; “δεῖ” i.e. “it is necessary” or “isn’t it necessary”). 

The ruler subscribed to the idea that Sabbath regulations ought to feel crushing, but Jesus said that it’s actually mandatory to be freed on the Sabbath. This dear woman seems to have had that idea/hope. Here she was, 18 years into being doubled over by the devil, but she was still in church to hear the soul-freeing words of Jesus Christ (Luke 13:11)! We should all have her idea of freedom. And when Jesus unbound her, the very first thing she did was glorify God (Luke 13:13). Jesus has His compassionate eye upon us to free us on the Sabbath day in His holy assembly (Luke 13:12). And we should desire that all would come to Jesus and be freed by Jesus, Lord’s Day by Lord’s Day.

So it was, in fact, a pretty big deal. And the crowd’s reaction of rejoicing at Christ’s glory (Luke 13:17) is the right reaction. It’s the reaction that we should have every week as Jesus saves sinners, sanctifies saints, and hastens the final coming of His kingdom in its fullness.

It’s this last part of His Sabbath-workings that Jesus is focusing upon in Luke 13:18–21. He’s telling us that what happened to that daughter of Abraham (cf. Luke 13:16) that day at church is actually part of a larger program for ALL of the children of Abraham. The kingdom of God, the kingship of Jesus, is something that He is determined to do until it is done for all upon whom He has set His electing love. And that’s something truly to rejoice over. Glorious things are done by Him (end of Luke 13:17) every Lord’s Day, and we should be participating and celebrating “Freedom From Satan Day” as “Thy Kingdom Is Here And Thy Kingdom Come Day” every single week. Truly, it is The Lord’s Day!

In what ways do pursue and participate in Jesus’s freeing us from Satan every Lord’s Day? How do you celebrate that? How do you help others find this freedom and keep this focus?

Suggested Songs: ARP146 “Praise the Lord” or TPH153 “O Day of Rest and Gladness ”

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Real Danger of Difficult and Unstable Times (Family Worship in 2Samuel 4)

What is the greatest danger in difficult times? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these twelve verses, we find that the difficulty of their times led Baanah and Rechab into self-deception, thinking that they were being wise when they were really being cowardly, and that they were advancing the kingdom when they were really being wicked. Our own sin is our greatest danger, but we may look to the Lord to protect us from it by humble trust in Him and simple submission and obedience to Him.

2021.02.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 4

Read 2 Samuel 4

Questions from the Scripture text: Who heard what in 2 Samuel 4:1? How did he respond? What effect did this have upon whom? What two men does 2 Samuel 4:2 mention? What was their role, and where were they from (2 Samuel 4:2-3)? Upon whom does 2 Samuel 4:4 focus at first? Upon whom by the end? What happened to him? How/why? Who come to whom, where, and when, in 2 Samuel 4:5? Into where did they go, pretending to do what (2 Samuel 4:6)? But what did they do instead? With what did they escape (2 Samuel 4:7)? To whom did they bring it (2 Samuel 4:8)? How did they describe Saul? Whom did they describe as having done what to whom? With what work of Yahweh does David begin his answer to Rechab and Baanah (2 Samuel 4:9)? Of what incident does he inform/remind them (2 Samuel 4:10)? How does their action compare to that one (2 Samuel 4:11)? What does David say they have done and that he must now do? What does David command to be done to Rechab and Baanah (2 Samuel 4:12)? What do they do with the head of Ishbosheth?

Self-deception is rather easy, but it is ultimately quite deadly.

Baanah and Rechab thought they were clever, when they were really cowardly brutes. Three times, the text mentions that they killed Ishbosheth in his own house while he was asleep in his own bed (2 Samuel 4:62 Samuel 4:72 Samuel 4:11). It’s the last mention that is most telling, because it comes from David, who could only have known it from their own lips after they sprinted all afternoon, evening, and night to get to him (2 Samuel 4:7b). Apparently, they had thought it so clever that they had told David themselves. But he found it more wicked than wise (2 Samuel 4:11a), more culpable than clever (verse 11b). 

We too can congratulate ourselves for cleverness and not notice that really, our schemes are just enabling us to do what is wrong at low risk to ourselves.

They also thought (or at least insinuated) that they were accomplishing the will of God, when they were really just violating the Word of God. “We’re the delivering instruments of Yahweh,” they say in 2 Samuel 4:8. How very theological and spiritual of them! But David’s theology is too robust for that; “Yahweh has delivered me from every single trouble,” he says in 2 Samuel 4:9 (i.e., He doesn’t need murderers’ help!). 

Professing Christians often claim theological and spiritual motives for worship that pleases men not God, indulging unconverted children rather than bringing them under the means of grace—even invoking the “Spirit’s leading” for such wicked things as leaving their wife (husband) for someone they “feel more spiritually connected to.” I’m sure you can produce more examples. With God’s help, you might even find examples in your own heart and life. David wasn’t fooled; how much less is God fooled by our pious framing of our follies and sins!

As for David, the temptation would have been to reward Rechab and Baanah. With Abner and Ishbosheth out of the way, these two captains of troops (2 Samuel 4:2) represented a way to rally the northerners, who were still a bit rattled (2 Samuel 4:1). But this is not God’s way. God’s way is to execute murderers (2 Samuel 4:12). God Himself would see to the kingdom (cf. chapter 5), just as He had delivered David out of every trouble (2 Samuel 4:9). This freed David to do what is right, and it is a glimpse of the justice of great David’s greater Son, to Whom vengeance belongs. On the one hand, this should terrify us into repentance and faith (cf. Psalm 2:9–12). On the other hand, it should free us to do good even to our enemies (cf. Romans 12:19–21).

If we are going to evade self-deception, it must be by the Spirit’s blessing to us that marvelous certainty that Christ’s kingdom will come, and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. It all belongs to Him, so let us kiss the Son lest we perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him—and they are liberated to do what He says is right, rather than what they think “will work.”

What wrong choices/actions are you tempted to theologize justifying? What helps you see yourself rightly?

Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH459 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Saved by Christ, in Christ, for Christ (Family Worship in Colossians 3:1–11)

How high is our confidence and our calling? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these eleven verses, we find that as those whose hope is as unassailable as the throne of glory, that throne is how high we should be aiming with the love, obedience, and service of all of our thoughts, feelings, words, and actions.

2021.02.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Colossians 3:1–11

Read Colossians 3:1–11

Questions from the Scripture text: What has happened to believers with Christ (Colossians 3:1)? What should they seek? Why—Who is there? What else are we to do with “things above” (Colossians 3:2)? Upon what are we not to set our minds? What has happened to believers in Colossians 3:3? With Whom is their life hidden? Where is their life hidden? Who will appear (Colossians 3:4)? Who also will appear with Him? In what condition? What are we to do with our worldly aspects—that part of us that will end with this world (Colossians 3:5)? Which specific, worldly (sinful) aspects of us (that we are to put to death) does he mention? What is happening because of these things (Colossians 3:6)? What two ways does Colossians 3:7 describe how they used to act upon their inward sin? What six other things do Colossians 3:8-9 identify as things that believers need to put off? What have believers put off (verse 9b)? What have they put on (Colossians 3:10)? In what is the new man renewed? According to whose image is the new man renewed? What factors/aspects are not part of the newness of the new man (Colossians 3:11)? 

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Colossians 3:1–11, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Christ, of All My Hopes the Ground. God has saved us by Christ, in Christ, and for Christ. 

God has saved us by Christ. In our place, Jesus has lived the perfectly obedient life that we could not. In our place, Jesus has died under the wrath and curse of God that we deserve but could never satisfy.

But God has not only saved us by Christ. He has saved us in Christ. When we believe in Jesus, we are joined to Him. Colossians 3:3 tells us that we died in Christ’s death. But it also says that our life is hidden with Christ in God—so that if you trust in Jesus Christ, the way to read Colossians 3:1 is not so much “if then you were raised with Christ,” but rather, “because you have been raised with Christ. Christ didn’t just give His life for us, but as Colossians 3:4 says, Christ is our life.

And God has saved us for Christ. We live on earth, but the purpose of our earthly life is the glory of Christ by Whom and for Whom we have been saved. He is seated at the right hand of God, and His is all the glory. Colossians 3:11 tells us that Christ is all and in all. And what is part of the glory of Christ at His appearing? Our appearing with Him—also glorious.

Christ will take those who were full of the things in the lists of Colossians 3:5 and Colossians 3:8—we formerly walked in them (Colossians 3:6)! And, He will have made us entirely the opposite. He has “renewed us in knowledge according to the image of [Christ].” What will be the great distinguishing characteristic about us on that day? Not our ethnicity, or ceremonial markings, or culture, or socioeconomic status—but that we have been transformed from wickedness into the spitting moral images of Jesus Christ.

So, as we consider Him where He is right now, and how we have been saved to bring Him glory, that gives us marching orders for the rest of our lives. Christians often want to know about the particular future events of our lives. But Deuteronomy 29:29 calls those “secret things.” Whatever else we are called to, we are called to put to death the list in Colossians 3:5, to put off the list in Colossians 3:8, to follow Jesus in obedience to all the commands of His Word—what Deuteronomy 29:29 calls “the revealed things.”

Why? Because we have been saved not just by Christ and in Christ. We have been saved for Christ.

How does God’s method of killing sin point to your only hope? Who is that hope? What hope does He give?

Suggested songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken” or TPH447 “Christ, of All My Hopes the Ground”

Monday, February 15, 2021

Praying and Working for Christian Love to Grow Continually, Definedly, Completely, Organically, Doxologically (2021.02.14 Evening Sermon in Philippians 1:9–11)

We must pray and work for our own and others' love to grow continually, definitively, completely, organically, and doxologically.

God Himself Is His Own Greatest Provision (2021.02.14 Morning Sermon in Genesis 45:16–46:4)

We must neither have false hope in man nor despair about man, because we have One, Whose sure plan and presence ought always to gladden and strengthen us.

The Remaining Corruption May for a Time Prevail (Sanctification, part 6, WCF 13.3.1; 2021.02.14 Sabbath School)

...In which war, although the remaining corruption, for a time, may much prevail...

2021.02.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 45:16–46:4

Read Genesis 45:16–46:4

Questions from the Scripture text: Who heard what in Genesis 45:16? How do they respond? What does Pharaoh tell Joseph to do (Genesis 45:17)? What are the brothers to bring (Genesis 45:18)? What will Pharaoh give them? What will they eat? What is Joseph to command the brothers take, for what purpose (Genesis 45:19)? About what does he say not to be concerned (Genesis 45:20)? Why? What is the response in Genesis 45:21? What provision for each man does Genesis 45:22 specifically mention? Who is singled out how? Whose provision does Genesis 45:23 single out? What is it? With what additional instruction does Joseph send them (Genesis 45:24)? When they arrive back (Genesis 45:25), and tell Jacob (Genesis 45:26), how does he respond and why? What does he hear, and what does he see, in Genesis 45:27? With what result? What is Jacob now called in Genesis 45:28? What is the first thing that he says? What is enough? What does he say that he will go do? What does he seem to think will immediately follow? What does he bring (Genesis 46:1)? Where does he arrive in verse 1? What does he do there? To Whom (what Name does verse 1 use)? Who speaks in Genesis 46:2? How (in what)? How does He address him—with what name, how many times? What does Jacob say? What two things does God say about Himself (Genesis 46:3)? What does God tell him not to do? Why—what does God promise that He will do? Who will go where with whom (Genesis 46:4)? What else will He do (cf. Genesis 50:24–25)? Who else will do what (Genesis 46:4)?

Pharaoh gives Jacob’s family royal authorization and protection (“Now you are commanded,” Genesis 45:19), as well as provision (Genesis 45:18Genesis 45:20).  And Joseph follows the instruction (Genesis 45:21, 23), adding the family’s love-language of garments (Genesis 45:22, cf. Genesis 37:3). If these things hadn’t have come along, Jacob wouldn’t have come, since he didn’t trust his sons (Genesis 45:26), for which we can hardly blame him. The detailed report (Genesis 45:27a) helped a bit, and Jacob does trust his eyes (verse 27b), so he resolves to leap into action (Genesis 45:28), with the text notably switching back to the use of “Israel” at this point.

The last stop in Canaan is Beersheba—an important place in God’s dealings with Abraham and Isaac. It is probably for that reason that Israel offers sacrifices there, even referring to God as “the God of his father Isaac” (Genesis 46:1). But it is possibly for this reason that he is also afraid. Abraham had stumbled in going to Egypt (cf. Genesis 12:10–20). Isaac had been directly forbidden to go there (cf. Genesis 26:2). What if this was the wrong thing to do?

So the Lord appears to him, and commands him not to fear going down (Genesis 46:3). God assures him not only of his plan “I will make of you a great nation there” but also of his presence “I Myself will go down with you to Egypt, and returning, I will return you” (Genesis 46:4). He even gives him a physical action that will remind and reinforce to him these promises, “And Joseph will put his hand on your eyes.”

Should Jacob have believed God’s promises this whole time? Absolutely. Should he have been leading his family continually in the kind of worship in Genesis 46:1? Yes! So we see God appearing to him to reinforce (even with new detail) the promise of His plan and of His presence, and we are to say, “What a patient and merciful God!” And He is our God, who has filled His Word with these promises, and added to it the physical signs of His sacraments!

In what ways has doubt and anxiety cropped up in your life? Where do God’s Word and sacrament meet you?

Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH73C “In Sweet Communion, Lord, with Thee”